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1WineDude | A Serious Wine Blog for the Not-So-Serious Drinker - Page 352

Why Kids are Collateral Damage in the War for Your Wine Dollar (and What You Can Do About It)

Vinted on April 4, 2008 binned in PLCB, wine health
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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!

(images: tastephx.com, defendamerica.mil, green-talk.com)

For those of you plying along at home, I’m a new dad – of only a few remarkable days. As you might imagine, you could change my handle to “1DiaperDude” and it would be an apt description, since I’m far more involved in baby-related activities at the moment than I am in vino sampling.

As a new parent, I now find myself asking questions that, in my previous life (BC - Before Children), I would never have considered:

This kid is *adorable* – is she actually mine?

How much talk about poop is too much talk about poop?

Do any criminal sex offenders live in our neighborhood?

What’s the best way to threaten my daughter’s future teenage suitors when they eventually come to the house to take her on a date, without risking incarceration? Display a “wall of weapons”?

Because I’m a wine geek, I’ve also been asking another question:

How can I (eventually) introduce my family to responsible wine consumption?

As I pondered that last question, I came to realize something. It’s something that struck me as very important (and maybe, I dare say after having a few glasses of vino tonight as I type this, a touch profound):

Our children are the “collateral damage” in the marketing fight for your wine dollar

1) On the one hand, state-run liquor distribution monopolies (such as the PLCB) are exploiting our fear of keeping our children safe.

These wine distro. monopolies protect their big profits by fighting legislation that would open their state wine sales to the free market.

How do they muster support for that legislation? They scare it out of you, by telling you that your children will get their hands on alcohol illegally if states governments permit wine and other alcoholic beverages to be sold via the Internet and direct-shipped to your door.

On the surface it seems a simple choice – protect your kids., right?

But what the wine monopolies don’t tell you is that their data are based on seriously flawed studies. They’re betting that a) you’re too dumb to scratch under the surface and get the real facts on their studies, b) you’re not a smart enough parent to teach your children responsible behavior around alcohol, and c) you won;t bother because your kids will become scheming, irresponsible teens anyway.

If I was dolling out grades, that approach would get, at best, a D minus. It’s the politics of fear vs. the politics of free trade – and our kids, unable to adequately defend themselves, are caught in the crossfire.

2) On the other hand, for the most part our U.S. society does little (or nothing) to introduce kids to the notion of responsible, healthy alcohol / wine consumption. Instead, we allow that introduction to take place via movies and TV, where our children get to see seriously unhealthy over-consumption portrayed as the height of coolness, synonymous “real” partying and fun.

What can we do about it? The role of parenting is essential:

1) “Teach Your Children Well” – As parents, we need to insure that we spend enough time in our children’s lives. Part of that QT (eventually) is to help them understand wine’s healthy place at the dinner table, in our society at large, and in world history.

We also have to make sure that our kids don’t view alcohol over-consumption as something “cool” (so cool that they automatically associate it as being essential to having a good time).

2) “Teach Your Parents Well” – As parents, we need to encourage each other, and encourage the dialog of abuse prevention (instead of treatment). Why hasn’t this dialog made more headway into traditional media and social programs? I’ve no idea – though I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that both cases mentioned above line the pockets of somebody.

Try searching on Google for family and alcohol, and you’ll see what I mean – you will get results that deal with treating alcohol abuse problems in the family after they are already problems; you won’t find much on responsible prevention.

One of the few places where you can find this dialog taking place is in the wine blogging community. Commendably, many wine bloggers have tried to tackle this topic, Dr. Debs and The Pour among them.

You can support the positive dialog by supporting the wine blogging community. Donate to your favorite blogs, spread the word by giving them a digg, join the Open Wine Consortium, and join the fight against wine distro. scare-tactics by writing to your state governments to let them know how you feel about their questionable practices.

3) Set an example by drinking responsibly, and not abusing alcohol in front of your children. Well… duh…!

Nobody said being a dad would be easy. Being a dad has made me even more determined to fight against wine distribution monopolies. And it’s given even more respect for the value that the global blogging community can provide.

Cheers!

May I Be Franc With You (WBW #44 – French Cab Franc Review)

(images: nysaes.cornell.edu, artsci.wustl.edu, merchantwines.com)

This edition of Tales of the Purple Monkey has Plumboo and I tasting a French Cabernet Franc, as part of Wine Blogging Wednesday #44. This WBW theme comes to us courtesy of the irrepressible Gary V. over at Wine Library TV.

Before Plumboo and I head of to Chinon in France’s Loire valley (more on that later) & get tasting, the Dude needs to give you a bit of French Cab Franc background, lest you navigate these waters all-uneducated-like and get burned picking up a bottle of wine that you hate. Similar caution should be exercised whenever tasting any wine with a French label on it – not because French wines suck (they most certainly don’t), but because French wine labels (most certainly do) suck.

In France, the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system guarantees a wine’s place of origin. It (roughly) forms the basis of most other similar wine quality systems in many other countries. You may now be asking yourself, “wait a second Dude – place of origin or quality… which one is it?”

The answer is… “Yes”…

That’s because in France, they have (with few exceptions) the belief that over centuries of grape-growing (aka trial-and-error), they know what grapes work best for each viticultural area of the country. Which is why you will rarely see “Cabernet Franc” listed on the label of a French wine. Instead, you need to know which areas are permitted to grow and vinify which grape varieties. It’s one of the ways that the French like to use to piss off Americans (caution: joke in progress).

Most French Cab Franc is grown in Bordeaux. But you’d never know it, because it’s one of the grapes (along with the more well-known Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot) that goes into the classic Bordeaux red wine blends. Cab Franc is an easy-going grape (in terms of soil and climate), and it ripens earlier than it’s little-brother Cab Sav. In the Bordeaux blends, it adds some color, berry flavor, and even hints of floral and vegetable aromas to round out the softer Merlot and harsher Cab Sav.

However, Cab Franc has also found an AOC certified home in other areas of France, where it gets to shine all by its glorious lonesome self. Most notably, this vino-illumination happens in the Loire valley – a very big swath of land that runs along the (very long) Loire river. Along the banks of the Loire are many, many gorgeous castles, and many, many styles of gorgeous wines.

This tasting takes Plumboo and I (virtually of course) to Chinon, an old town that gained importance (dating back possibly to pre-recorded history) due to its location on the banks of the Vienne river where it meets the Loire. The area has been home to monasteries, forts, castles, and good winemaking.

For WBW #44, Plumboo and I chose a 2005 Jean-Maurice Raffault “Les Galuches” from Chinon. This Cab Franc is a gorgeous purple, with lots of dark berry, a bit of green pepper, and a smaller hint of vegetable (stalks) in your nose. There’s quite a bit of cheek-drying tannin and some blackberry in your mouth. A nice “everyday” wine that could end up being a crowd-pleaser at your next party. The Purple Monkey approved, anyway.

While you can find decent example of Cab Franc in many other locales, especially in the U.S. While these are also good everyday wines, they often lack the finesse of their Loire valley counterparts, who have set the Cab Franc standard (and are definitely worth the trip ‘down river’).

Cheers!

Fresh Takes on Organic Wine

Vinted on March 31, 2008 binned in organic wine, wine tips

(images: wpsignsystems.com, organic.lovetoknow.com)

Those of you who have been following the Dude’s blog know that when it comes to organic wines I have been, let’s just say, less than kind in the past on the quality and viability of these products.

To provide yet another perspective in my ongoing love/hate affair with all things organic. my partner in crime Jason Whiteside has offered up some comments on the organic trends impact for wine consumers.

Jason fully acknowledges the marketplace trends towards organic products, even though he is not influenced by it himself per se (according to Jason, “I am not a vegan. Whatever the opposite eating style to vegan is, that is what I am.“).

Organic-minded consumers should be aware of the hidden dangers in their wine bottles. According to Jason:

Along with the wave of social food consciousness, it is natural to wonder about the wine we drink. Is it organic? Is wine OK for vegans to drink? What do we really know about the contents of any given bottle? Consumers who are sensitive to the use of animal products should know why and how animal products are used in the manufacture of wine. Eggs whites, isinglass (the powdered swim bladders of fish), and other proteins are used in the fining process, which helps make a wine clear.

Often times, when wine is made, it has a hazy or cloudy appearance from suspended particles. Nobody wants to drink hazy wines, for most of us are rightfully programmed to believe a good wine should be clear and bright. So the winemaker will use a carefully measured amount of protein to help remove the haze. This works because the protein carries an electrostatic charge opposite to the particles in the haze. They cling to each other, and fall out of the wine as sediment. The clear wine is then racked off the sediment, which means that for practical purposes there is no clarifying agent (egg whites) left in the bottle.

For those who are over-the-top-serious about their organic shopping, even these fining procedures may not be enough:…

But, who really knows if there is absolutely none left? Testing for that would be more expensive than it is worth.

All is not entirely hopeless for these consumers, however: “As a consumer, it is relatively easy to find a list of wines that are either unfined or fined without animal products. This website lists vegan wine, and I have found it to be very helpful: http://vegans.frommars.org/wine. I recommend the wines from Rosenblum (especially their Petit Syrah) and Houghton Chardonnay, in particular.

As for the current state of organic winemaking, Jason leans towards my assessment that good examples of these wines are harder to come by (but well worth the effort once you do finally get your hands on them):

For consumers who look for organic or vegan wines, my hope is that more skilled winemakers take up the challenge of green winemaking. It is not an easy undertaking. Sulfur dioxide buys a winemaker a lot of time by keeping the grapes fresh, and fresh grapes mean better wine. If you want to see how fast harvested fruit starts to spoil in your own home, cut an apple in half, and see how long it takes to start to turn brown. The ‘browning’ is the effect oxygen has on fruit; sulfur dioxide protects against this. It will be difficult for winemakers to forever put away their chemicals, eggs, and fish bladders, and I for one would not ask them to. But, for those to whom this matters, know that quality wines are being made without the extra stuff. You just have to go out and find them.

Cheers!

More Moore Wine Reviews

Vinted on March 28, 2008 binned in twitter, wine mini-reviews, wine review

Well, after nearly two months, I’ve (finally) finished off my sample case from the fabulous Moore Bros. As for why it took me so long to review these – hey, there’s a lot of wine to be had out there!

As promised in a previous post, I’ve recorded my thoughts on each wine in my Wine Mini-Reviews, available on twitter.

Below you will find the detail (such as it is on twitter, with its 140 character limit) on each wine. In summary, Mr. McDuff and friends certainly know their stuff; I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the majority of the wines in the sample case, especially when you contrast that with their relatively low price points.

My favs? France did well with the Dude this time around, as both of my favorite picks from this batch were French:

Read on for the twitter review round-up…


1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `04 Ch. Bellevue (Fronsac): Progressing nicely. Soft for Bord’x, & approachable. Aroma is promising, palate doesn’t quite live up to it.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Emrich-Schonleber Monzinger Riesling QbA trocken (Nahe): Minerals galore but low on florals. Think my bottle was flawed though.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `05 Ch. les Fromenteaux Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine Clos du Poyet (Loire, Fr): Minerals. Fruit. Body. Nice – but not quite harmonious.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `04 Corzano e Paterno Chianti (Colli Fiorentini, It): It’s what’s on *top* of the fruit – orange & spice – that makes it special. Decant it.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Corte Gardoni (Custoza, Italy): Fruity, austere, with a tiny bit of spice & nut. Who knew Garganega could be so bold? Killer with salad.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Domaine Georges Trichard Chenas (Beaujolais, Fr): Candied cherry, plum & flowers. But it’s got some heft as well & could age. Fine stuff.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Brunori Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi “Le Gemme”: Nutty, pleasing acidity & Chardonnay-esque fruit. I’m startin to like this producer!
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `05 Rosso Piceno Tourquis Brunori (Marche, It): Classic Sangiovese nose, & the Montepulciano provides a little kick. Could get used to this!
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `04 Domaine André Bonhomme Viré-Clessé (Burgundy): Apricot & oak. Like meeting a bourgeoisie madam in a proletariat nightspot. Classy.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview ’06 Lorenzino Ettore Germano Dolcetto d’Alba (Italy): Cherries & tobacco in great balance. Nice, but I prefer Dolcetto to be a bit livelier.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `05 Le Premier Pas Domaine Le Pas de l’Escalette (Cot. du Languedoc): Harmonious blend of S. Rhone grapes. French red without the shackles.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Touraine Sauvignon La Pointe Domaine Ricard: A pink grapefruit grenade hurled from the heart of the Loire at your nose. Very good SB.

Cheers!

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