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Zen, Spider-Man, and the Miracle of Wine

Vinted on December 1, 2008 binned in zen wine
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HiYa! If you're new here, you may want to Sign Up to get all the latest wine coolness delivered to your virtual doorstep. I've also got short, easily-digestible mini wine reviews and some educational, entertaining wine vids. If you're looking to up your wine tasting IQ, check out my book How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: A practical guide to tasting, enjoying, and learning about the world's greatest beverage. Cheers!

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.

“Nice title… wonder how he’s going to get himself out of this one?”

Trust me, it’s all gonna make sense in a minute or two. I think.

See, it all started with Thanksgiving last week.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “Not off to a good start there, chico. Mind if I call you chico?”

Not at all. Anyway, Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for us to stop and – duh – give thanks for that in our lives for which we are most grateful. Now, wine has been very, very good to me and it got me thinking about how grateful I am to have wine in my life. And it got me thinking about Spider-Man. And miracles.

Let’s start with the miracles…

The Miracles
The Universe is an unimaginably big place – conventional wisdom is that the observable Universe is at least 10 billion light years in radius, and is probably much bigger. How big is that? Our entire solar system is 42,700,000,000,000 times smaller than the universe.

And, it’s really, really old. Like, at least 12 billion years old. How old is that? If you mapped out the history of the Universe into 1 Earth year, all of recorded human history would occupy approximately the last 13 seconds of that year.

Note that none of this either supports or excludes the possibility that the Universe is in some way intelligent. I say this because the cosmological parameters needed to eventually support life in the Universe were, to the best of our collective knowledge, set at the instant of the Big Bang. As we understand it today, the precision needed within those parameters (and their subsequent margin of error) to support life is so small that the odds against it happening are simply huge.

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

Throw in the fact that the matter created in the Big Bang eventually combined in some way to create YOU, and you have even greater odds against you even being here to read this blog post.

The fact that you exist at all is a cosmological miracle on a grand scale.

It sure doesn’t look that way when you analyze the odds from, say, the point of your grandparents – or even the point of Homo Sapiens – first hitting the Universal timeline. But when you look at the broader context, that of the history of the Universe, well you have to admit that if you’d been around in a parallel Universe during our Big Bang there’s no way you’d have put any money down on it working out.

Yet work out it did.

How even more miraculous that we came to invent wine, and that a glass wine has come to be in front of you at any given moment.

Which brings us to Spider-Man.

Spider-Man
All of this Zen Wine musing had me recalling a Spider-Man comic (geek alert!!) I read many moons ago, in which Spider-Man has defeated an enemy in Peru (long story… just go with it). After his battle he meets up with a sort of shaman/mystic, who at one point tells him (and I’m paraphrasing here): “You can say that the Sun will rise tomorrow because of the rotation of the Earth, the orbit of the planet and the Sun and the solar system’s movement through the Universe. I say the Sun will rise tomorrow because it is destined to do so. Do you see a conflict?”

Spidey’s response: “I don’t at that.”

You can say that I will come to enjoy my next wine because of chaos theory, benevolent divine intervention, or the destiny of the entire Universe.

I don’t see a conflict between any of those.

All I see is a miracle, and man, I’m really, really grateful for it. See, told you it would all make sense! Sort of.

Cheers!
(images: photobucket.com)

Turkey Day Wine Pick Poll Results!

Vinted on November 27, 2008 binned in wine polls

THANK YOU to everyone who chimed in on the first ever 1WineDude.com website poll!

Personally, I find website polls to be hit-or-miss – I prefer that a poll have a point (to gain reader feedback that will actually be used) rather than those that are just for fun (call me a party-pooper).

This poll definitely had a point, in that I wanted to see what 1WD readers were drinking on Thanksgiving this year, and also see what this highly non-scientific and possibly statistically specious poll had to say about the challenge of Thanksgiving dinner wine pairing recommendations in general.

Well, it had a point to me, anyway. And I thought it would be fun (and it is my blog, after all).

Anyway, here are The Results

As you can see above, while a fair amount of you will be drinking Riesling (my personal fave Turkey Day pick) or aromatic Gewurztraminer, most of you picked a write-in category (“Other”) – which means that you thought the other poll answer options sucked, and/or you wanted to offer a more specific recommendation.

Which brings us to “Other” – here are the varied answers offered up in the write-in categor:

  • A Rhone Red, A Spanish Red, A Cali Chard
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Zierfandler [editor's note: wow!]
  • The big winner at this year’s holiday party, believe it or not, was …Chianti.
  • Pinot Noir
  • Pinot and..maybe a Merlot maybe a Sparkling shiraz – definitely champers. [editor's note: red sparkler... awesome... most interesting pick by far!]
  • Cheval Blanc, it was getting on in age so we’re going to pull it out. [editor's note: Can I come over for that?]
  • hard cider (sparkling)
  • falanghina [editor's note: I had to look this one up!]
  • Blaufrankisch
  • Pinot Noir, of course! [editor's note: okay, okay, I get the point already...]
  • still a month to go until the REAL Turkey Day here in the UK [editor's note: yes, but do you also get to watch American football on the same day? thought not...]
  • Champagne Beyatches!!!!! [editor's note: my personal favorite response]
  • Reisling [sic] AND Pinot Noir

There you have it. The people have spoken, and on Turkey Day, they want variety! They also want Pinot Noir.

Whatever you’re drinking this Thanksgiving day, I wish you a happy, safe, and enjoyable time with it!

Cheers!
(images: franklinliquors.com, polldaddy.com, bizland.com)

A Local Wine Menage-a-Trois Soiree via Twitter

Vinted on November 26, 2008 binned in Tales of the Purple Monkey, twitter, wine products, wine review


This exciting edition (is there any other kind?) of Tales of the Purple Monkey has Plumboo (that’s the monkey) and me taking on one wine, but in three slightly (but importantly) different ways.

Last week, I participated in several Twitter Taste Live events, one of them being co-hosted by BinEndsWine.com and DrVino.com titled “Drink Local!” in which we reviewed local (to the reviewers., that is) wines. My previous post on the event has more background detail (and a recap of the twitter conversations).

Because I’m a homer, and I’m lazy, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I reviewed Penns Woods’ 2004 Ameritage Reserve (a Bordeaux style red blend), but with a twist – I presented the wine in three different “formats”:

  1. Poured directly from the bottle
  2. Decanted 3+ hours before serving
  3. “Decanted” directly from the bottle using a wine gadget called the Wine Soiree.

The Soiree looks like a glass Christmas tree ornament, or a sex toy for the very, very adventurous. Or an elegant alien spacecraft for extraterrestrial fleas…

Anyway, according to the Wine Soiree website and promotional materials, it is supposed to function somewhat like a decanter, using the principle of aeration. Wine contains many volatile chemicals that impart aroma, flavor, and also help to integrate a wine’s components so that it tastes better. Exposing those volatile components to air starts the process. This is one reason why decanting hefty red wines for a time before drinking them helps to make the wine more accessible and softer.

I poured all of my “versions” of the Penns Woods Ameritage into identical ISO tasting glasses (because I’m a nerd and I do own those, thank you very much) and had a go at each in comparison.

The result? Check out the following excerpt from my twitter feed during the Twitter Taste Live event:

10:41
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl Yo yo YO! I’m tasting 2004 Penns Woods Ameritage Reserve. Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc, Sangiovese, & whatever other reds the winemaker (Gino Razzi) wants
10:42
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl From the Brandywine valley of SE PA
10:42
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl I did a little experiment. I have 3 glasses of the same wine, but each is different…
10:43
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl #1 was poured directly from the bottle. #2 was decanted 3+ hrs. #3 was poured using that in-bottle Soiree decanter thing-y
10:44
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl #1 direct from the bottle: smoke (a LOT of it); cedar; black currants; a little rough around the edges on the tannins; good finish
10:44
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl According to Mrs. Dudette: “It’s like licking a chimney there’s so much smoke! But in a good way.”
10:45
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl #2 decanted 3+ hrs: MUCH smoother, with more dark cherry; the oak is more integrated and the finish seems to go forever…
10:46
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl I might be still tasting this finish tomorrow when I brush my teeth in the morning!!!
10:47
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl #3 ‘decanted’ via the soiree: has the currant & cedar elements of #1, but not as integrated as #2; finish is la bit onger than #1
10:48
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl This Soiree does something… and it seems good to aerate a wine in a pinch or when a decanter is not available.
10:48
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl but it ain’t quite like decanting!
10:50
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl As for the wine itself – very good, not his best vintage tho. The 2005 has more promise; 2002 is… well… freakin’ sublime!
10:51
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl This 04 is a bit too expensive for what it is, but it’s a very, very well made Bord’x style blend. And YES it is from PA!
10:53
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl So in summary: Penns Woods make a kick-ass wine, and the Soiree does actually do… something; but not as much something as a decanter

As it turns out, the Soiree does indeed seem to aerate the wine… somewhat. For me, the Soiree doesn’t compare to actual decanting, which in this experiment I found to be far superior. Still, I think the Soiree could work in a pinch if you are desperate to decant and/or to take the edge off of a serious red, but can’t wait for proper decanting (winery tasting rooms come to mind).

It you can get past the sight of a Christmas tree ornament sitting on top of your wine bottle, that is.

Cheers!
(images: 1WineDude.com, drvino.com)

The Thanksgiving Wine Pick Poll!

Vinted on November 24, 2008 binned in holidays, wine polls

Ah…. Thanksgiving.

Far and away my favorite U.S. holiday.

I used to have a great deal of difficulty explaining Thanksgiving to my European and International friends. That is, until one day when, out of complete frustration during a conversation about Thanksgiving with a buddy of mine in the UK, I exclaimed:

“Look – it’s two days where Americans don’t have to work, don’t have to buy gifts for each other, where we get to sit around, eat, and watch American football; why wouldn’t it be our favorite holiday!?!”

That seemed to get through to them relatively easily, so it’s become my default explanation about Thanksgiving to non-U.S. citizens since that day.

The only thing that I don’t like about this greatest of all American holidays is having to give Thanksgiving meal wine pairing recommendations. That’s because I find it largely impossible, and ultimately pointless.

Most Thanksgiving celebrations are a recipe for wine disaster: a massive variety of food; side items that totally overpower the main courses with their richness, sugar content, and robust flavors; a large group of people spanning several generations and all with different wine drinking preferences.

Search for “Thanksgiving wine pairings” on Google and you will get almost 1.2 million hits.

Good luck with that…

Because given the complex and unique situation that is the traditional U.S. Thanksgiving dinner, and you have a strong argument for all of them being ‘right’. The answer is simple: drink what you like!

So, rather than telling you what you ought to drink on this coming Turkey Day, I thought it would be fun for you to tell me (and all of the 1WineDude.com readers!) what you’re drinking at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner table!

Take the poll below and let us know!

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Looking forward to seeing what you’re imbibing to make your relatives a bit easier to bear with turkey dinner this year!


Cheers (and Happy Thanksgiving)!
(images: lbcpastor.files.wordpress.com, diamondvues.com)

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