One of my favorite “pro” gigs is penning the In Focus section of Publix Grape Magazine, which I will happily continue doing for so long as they’re willing to ask, because I have so much freakin’ fun doing it. I learn more than I’d otherwise suspect every time I write for the seasonal magazine, both in researching and in trying to take complex wine topics such as yeasts, oak, and acids, and make them palatable (see what I did there?) to non-geeks. You know, normal people!
For the 2013 Winter edition of Grape, I solicited the help of my winemaking bud Steve Matthiasson in breaking down the topic of wine sugars, much like yeasts break those suckahs down in real life (see what I did there?… whatever…). Corkscrews are the topic for the Spring, so go subscribe (for free) if you don’t want to miss it.
But I’m not blogging to talk about that, I actually want to talk about another aspect of the Winter release of Grape, in which I’m quoted on the topic of cute wine labels. Namely, are they good or bad for wine, and would they appeal to Millennials?
I’m one of a few wine geeks quoted in that article, which understandably but unfortunately didn’t quote my lengthy caveat that if wine brands like Skinny Girl and Cupcake are selling, then there must be good reasons for that and it doesn’t really matter what I or any other critic-type-person thinks about them. Interestingly, the article also mentioned Gnarly Head and Smoking Loon, which I don’t consider as “kitschy” as Skinny Girl or Cupcake (loons are not cute, and neither are gnarly old vines), but I’ve long considered them decent bargains because they’re getting nice old vine fruit from places like Lodi at suppressed prices, which translates into really decent wines in some cases…
Read the rest of this stuff »
Last night, 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!