Whence Cometh Napa Cabernet?

Vinted on February 15, 2010 binned in California wine, commentary, wine publications

Today I’ll be starting my week-long Napa excursion (the itinerary of which I’d hoped to have posted today, but since all those West Coast hippies are so damn laid back, as of the time of this writing my schedule still isn’t totally finalized… if I’d been dealing with uptight, anally-retentive East Coast types I would have had this all nailed down within 15 minute intervals weeks ago).

This got me thinking about Napa Cabernet, of which I plan to have tasted so much by the time I leave Napa that I will probably need emergency dental work to deal with the teeth stains as soon as I land back in Philly.

And since I’m heading out there for a writers symposium, it got me thinking about the origin of “Napa Cabernet” – not in terms of the wine, but in terms of the words.  I’m a sucker for words and I own more than my fair share of dictionaries and etymological resources.  I’m geeky that way.

You’d think that this would be pretty easy, right?  A bit of Google searching, or a trip to the handy-dandy unabridged dictionary, and we’d be all set, right?  Surely there isn’t much to the origin of such words, the kind that are so nearly ubiquitous that they instantly call up various mental and sensory images for wine lovers worldwide, right?

Not so fast, Buck-O.  As it turns out, the etymology of both “Napa” and “Cabernet” is far from being etched indelibly in stone…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini-Reviews Round-up for 2010-02-13

Vinted on February 13, 2010 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 04 Wellington 100 Yr Old Vines Estate Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley): The concentrated blackberry crack cocaine of Zins. Rich & balanced. $50 A- #
  • 07 Folie a Deux Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): A nice whiff of dark red fruit & toffee, but only sweet-tooth palates need apply. $28 B- #
  • 06 Waters Crest Cabernet Sauvignon (Long Island): That smoky, spicy cherry on the nose is magic. The slightly thin palate, less so. $40 B- #
  • 06 Ravines Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes): The apple & wet rock smell enticing, but you’d better have some food handy for this acid shot $17 B- #
  • 06 Brothers Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley): A Jim Kelly kung-fu black fruit, chocolate & licorice smackdown. Needs 7 yrs $75 A- #
  • NV Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port: The Port world’s Fig Newtons, only more complex, luscious, tastier & more of a total bargain. $13.50 B+ #
  • NV Casalnova Prosecco (Conegliano, Veneto): Suprisingly rich & downright refined. A honeysuckle lass with sass and some class. $18 B #
  • 02 Blackjack Ranch ‘harmonie’ Red (Santa Barbara): Proof that dried prunes, cassis, & dark root veggies can live together peacefully. $60 A- #
  • 07 Weingut Paulinshof Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese trocken (Mosel): A monster. Honey & lemon curd rock the hizzy. A- #

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Wine Knowledge Makes You Sexier

Vinted on February 12, 2010 binned in commentary, holidays

Just about every year around St. Valentine’s Day, I remind people that wine knowledge makes you appear sexier.

In the past, I’ve cited three (mostly) scientific sources to bolster that viewpoint:

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.”

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- just sayin’).

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.

Cheers – and may you be lucky in wine and love!

(image: courtesy of Celeste Guliano Photography)

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Making Sense of Elliot Essman’s “Use Wine To Make Sense Of The World”

Vinted on February 11, 2010 binned in book reviews, wine books

I think I’m beginning to understand what draws me to certain things, whether they be people, works of art, musical pieces, bands, sports teams, or wines.  Yeah, it took me over 30 years, but I have made some progress.

And it’s not easy to describe, because there is no single word in the English language that really encapsulates it – at least, not one that I’ve found.

It’s a sense of being genuine.

I don’t mean transparent, or honest, or without fault.  I mean, something clearly being… itself.  What appeals to me most is when someone or something has a spark of originality that is obvious to its very core, because he/she/it simply doesn’t know how to be any other way.

Which is why I enjoyed Elliot Essman’s Use Wine To Make Sense Of The World (the author sent me a review copy).

In an odd way, Essman’s writing made me think about that, because at first I could not figure out why I liked his book, which at times felt a bit tedious (there are sections devoted to following his bouts with Internet dating, as told via the wine selections of each date that, while not nearly as cringe-inducing as it sounds, made me scratch my head and wonder what the hell I was reading).

But it all came together for me in the next-to-last chapter (“Use Wine To Make Sense Of Your Brain”).  Essman was playing me the whole time…

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