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1WineDude | A Serious Wine Blog for the Not-So-Serious Drinker - Page 345

An Abolitionist Movement: Down With Wine Monopolies!

Vinted on July 29, 2008 binned in commentary, pennsylvania, PLCB, wine shipping
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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!


As many of you already know, I am no friend of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

I suppose that is putting it a bit mildly, since I’ve likened their unconcstitutional state-run wine monopoly to Communism, publicly ridiculed the 40%+ premium that they add to state wine prices (while at the same time limiting selection, reducing service quality, and boating some of the worst storage conditions in the country), and accused them of engaging in fear-mongering and sycophantic lobbying to protect their monopoly position.

But who’s bitter? Me?!? I’m not bitter!!! Who you callin’ a PSYCHO!??!!!

Anyway, the good news is that I no longer have to utilize previous 1WineDude.com real estate to fight the good fight against the PLCB. I’ve found a blog dedicated to that purpose, and I’d argue that its author (Lew Bryson) does a better job of it than I’d ever do!

I give you noplcb.blogspot.com, a.k.a. “Why The PLCB Should Be Abolished“!

For PA wine lovers, this blog will be hilariously funny in the same “cuts-so-close to reality that it kinda makes you wanna cry” way that Dilbert is hilariously funny for cubicle workers…

While I will probably defer to Lew on all matters PLCB from now on, I should note that I’m not an advocate for abolishing the PLCB – or any state-run liqour monopoly, for that matter. I simply want those monopolies to adhere to the decisions of their state and federal constitutions, and to ammend existing laws to permit competition with those monopolies.

Let them have their fair shot in the real world, and not in the ‘fake’ marketplace set up under the protection of state governments. Personally, I don’t think their business plans stand a snowball’s chance in hell, but let’s leave that to the open market to decide – and not the lobbyists.

When you’re talking about a monopoly that brings billions of dollars to those states, it’s a Sisyphusian struggle to be sure, and I’m sure that some of my rants about this topic sound downright naive.

But… the way that these state wine monopolies run is appalling; the message it sends is that the government will protect businesses from having to adhere to the Constitution, so long as those businesses make enough revenue for the state.

And that’s just not the kind of world in which I want my daughter to grow up.

Cheers!

An International Incident: Connecting with Wine Bloggers in the ‘Real World’

Vinted on July 28, 2008 binned in wine 2.0, wine appreciation

This past week, during a trip to Windsor I had the pleasure of meeting up with two very talented an knowledgeable wine bloggers – Robert McIntosh (the Wine Conversation), and Andrew Barrow (the venerable Spittoon.biz). In the ‘real world’ that is.

I also had the pleasure of sharing some bottles of real wine, sharing real food (at the Two Brewers pub), and having real honest-to-goodness conversation with like-minded wine geeks.

Personally, I love connecting with the wine blogging community online. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been accepted more quickly, or by a better group of folks – a large (and ever-expanding) one at that. And certainly the online wine world made our get-together possible, organized in record time via twitter.

But as I’m fond of saying, reading about wine tasting is like trying to learn how to french kiss by studying a diagram. At times, on-line conversations and friendships can reach a similar point on their trajectory. As Rob so aptly puts it in his recap of our ‘International Wine Bloggers Mini-Conference’, the ultimate point is to make real friends, in the real world…

Which is exactly what we did last week.

What do wine bloggers talk about when they get together face to face? We talk about the same things that we discuss on-line: wine, the state of its culture and service in our world today, and how to further the cause of making wine more accessible – with a smattering of personal tidbits for good measure.

In between sips, that is.

The highlight of our get-together for me was the near-instant camaraderie; never having met face to face before did not prevent us for a millisecond from striking up interesting conversation and enjoying one another’s company.

A close second was the match-up between the lamb entree and our bottle of 2000 Chateau Musar.

But that’s exactly the kind of thing that you need to have been there to truly appreciate.

Cheers!
(images: wineculture.blogspot.com)

Wine Dis-Service

Vinted on July 24, 2008 binned in commentary, wine tips

I recently received an e-mail response from a 1WineDude.com subscriber, in reaction to the previous post Does Wine Taste Better When You’re Dining Out? This response got me thinking about restaurant wine service in general, and it struck a cord in me because it touches on one of my pet peeves about wine service in many restaurants:

“…one thing I can control at home is proper rinsing and drying of my stemware. Nothing gets my goat more than shelling out good money for a favorite wine only to find that the restaurant’s stemware still smells of soap or rinsing/sheeting agents. If you encounter this problem when out on the town, don’t feel embarrassed to ask the server to have the glasses rinsed and hand dried again when having a special wine.”

Sound advice indeed, and I couldn’t agree more with it. For most wines, having a tulip-shaped glass is about all you need to get the maximum enjoyment out of the wine. Picking the right kind of stemware when drinking a special wine can really enhance the aromas and flavors. But I’d rather have a clean glass of any shape vs. a perfectly-matched but smelly glass!

Generally speaking, a little bit of wine knowledge can go a long way in making customers happy. Another pet peeve of mine when it comes to wine service: “the over-pour.” Filling a wine glass to the brim makes it almost impossible to enjoy all the aromas of a wine. It’s like eating a steak with a napkin draped over it. And just try to swirl the wine without spilling it…

Since we’re into complaining mode here, I’ll offer another one: serving wine at the wrong temperature. I’m not too precious about this – I just want it close. I’d rather have it too cold, because I easily enough warm the glass up in my hands (unless it’s been overpoured!). But getting a really, really cold red or a hot white is a total dining experience buzzkill for me.

Those are my wine service pet peeves. How about yours?


Cheers!
(images: stuff.co.nz, ggpht.com/vincent.vanwylick)

Sake Tasting @ Azie: The Oh-So-Tasty Wrap-Up!

Vinted on July 23, 2008 binned in wine industry events, wine tasting

When it comes to me and Iron Chef Takao Iinuma, well, we’ve just got to stop meeting like this.

Because that guy is so skilled, he’s going to ruin me for all other Japanese cuisine. With the exception of cuisine in Japan itself, presumably.

I’m not going to recap the food from my recent sake tasting at Iinuma’s fabulous Azie restaurant in Media, PA. I’ll let my good friends over at WCDish.com do that. You can read up on the details of the Azie tasting in my previous post shamlessly plugging the event.

But I will tell you about the sake I had the pleasure of tasting that evening. Because it’s gone a long way into making me a convert in the temple of all things sake. And a yummy, tummy-warming temple it is…


What’s great about events like the Azie tasting is the high probability of running into other ‘foodies’. In this case, I had the pleasure of hanging with Christine Olmsted of Teikoku, Mary and Sugendran of WCDish.com, and Gino Razzi, the Penns Woods winemaker who is starting to skae things up in the world of east coast wines (see inset pic of Gino, me, and Mary). Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that one of the best chefs in the eastern U.S. is whipping up the fare, either.

The sake samples on display at Azie were selected by Matt Palmer of Star Cellars. the man knows his sake, and since I am a complete sake novice, I took advantage of the opportunity to bend Matt’s ear and ask him a seemingly endless serious of questions about each sake, and the process of making sake in general.

Sake is often referred to as “rice wine” since at its most fundamental it is an alcoholic beverage made from rice. However, the process used to make sake is actually somewhere between those used to make beer and those used to make wine. Specifically, sake is made with a special type of rice with a high starch content, with a mold called koji used to convert the starch into sugars that can then be fermented into alcohol. From there, many techniques are used to create sakes with different characteristics. Like wine and whiskey, sake from different areas of Japan are noted for their distinct styles. You can learn more by checking out Sake.com.

The samples that we tasted at Azie really show the depth, range and breadth possible with sake. We started with an accessible, fun & sweet sparkling (yes, as in ‘with bubbles’) sake, and ended with the complex, powerful, and deep “Mountain Flowers” – a drink that requires (and deserves) as much concentration as a decent Burgundy.

As for the specifics on the sake that we had for our pairings at Azie, I’ve reviewed them in ‘mini’ form on twitter, and included the wrap-up below:

  • Harushika Tokimeki Sparkling sake: *Very* sweet n’ fruity for sake; CO2 is added but integrates well, and that acidity rocks the house.
  • Bishonen “Beautiful Boy” Ginjo sake: Lots of grain (duh!) and dairy, & good acidity. Maybe a bit too delicate, but beautiful nonetheless…
  • Ohyama “Big Mountain” Junmai sake: Pear, peach, minerals, lemon, flowers… isn’t that supposed to be Riesling? Wow. I think I’m a convert!
  • Masumi Sanka “Mountain Flowers” Daiginjo sake: Grains, herbs & floral notes. Like a crouched panther – graceful, but ohhh the *power*!

If you’re new to sake… let me tell you, you need to give this stuff a fair shot. Because it is definitely going to surprise you.

Consider this oenophile a convert.

Cheers!

(images: courtesy of Sugendran.net)

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