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Monday, March 11, 2013

Zohn: Chili Davis, baseball and wine

“No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any ####### Merlot!”

Here’s how it all started. Oh, I’ll let Davis tell it:

“I always drank like white wines, chardonnay. When I look back, Mike Krukow was the guy who initially got me interested in red wine. I’d gone to his home for dinner. He and his wife cooked a nice meal and had a bottle, I think it was either a Grgich or J. Lohr cab. I remember saying, ‘Krukie, I’m not a red wine drinker. You got any white wine?’

“He goes, ‘Hey, big boy, you’re not a red wine drinker because you haven’t had good red wine. Taste this.’

“And I drank it. It didn’t have that tart, kind of bitter finish I was used to in the cheap red wines I’d tasted. It had a smooth long finish to it. And it was just nice, velvety.”

...“I think I have, for the last year or so, one or two glasses of wine every night,” he said. “I don’t overdo it. I don’t allow anyone to overdo it. Sometimes, people want me to open one more bottle and I say, ‘This is enough.’

“You don’t drink wine to get drunk. You drink wine to socialize. You drink it with meals. It’s not to be abused. It’s a sipping thing. It’s not something to pound.”

I looked at him. I smiled. “Imagine you and I talking about wine,” I said. He smiled back, a smile that drew me back three decades.

And I thought, with some emotion: Life improves with age — what am I searching for here? — like a good merlot. Except, I don’t like merlot.

Repoz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 05:21 AM | 69 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants, history

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   1. Knock on any Iorg Posted: March 11, 2013 at 06:06 AM (#4386060)
Doesn't everybody know that you need a good full-bodied red wine to go with Chili?
   2. john_halfz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 09:08 AM (#4386108)
I don’t overdo it. I don’t allow anyone to overdo it.


Can't wait for my invite to Chili's house.
   3. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 11, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4386149)
That line from Sideways is one of my favourites of all time.
   4. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 09:50 AM (#4386157)
I think it was either a Grgich or J. Lohr cab.
Who knew?
   5. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 10:05 AM (#4386183)
Interestingly, Grgic himself is now focusing more on his newish Croatian winery, making expensive (and, based on the one I tried, merely mediocre) wines from Croatian varietals, one of which is a zinfandel clone.
   6. john_halfz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4386222)
Interestingly, Grgic himself is now focusing more on his newish Croatian winery, making expensive (and, based on the one I tried, merely mediocre) wines from Croatian varietals, one of which is a zinfandel clone.


I'm more of a Sutter Home Bubbly Moscato man myself. Thoughts?
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4386224)
Wine could field, but wasn't much with the stick. I'll take Chili.
   8. The Good Face Posted: March 11, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4386225)
Interestingly, Grgic himself is now focusing more on his newish Croatian winery, making expensive (and, based on the one I tried, merely mediocre) wines from Croatian varietals, one of which is a zinfandel clone.


Grgich has gotta be pushing 90 at this point, no? Shame his latest winery is making overpriced, mediocre wines, but still pretty impressive for a guy his age.
   9. chris p Posted: March 11, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4386234)
Doesn't everybody know that you need a good full-bodied red wine to go with Chili?

i like to pair american pale ale, ipa, or a hoppy pilsner with my chili.
   10. MikeTorrez Posted: March 11, 2013 at 11:38 AM (#4386243)
“You don’t drink wine to get drunk. You drink wine to socialize. You drink it with meals. It’s not to be abused. It’s a sipping thing. It’s not something to pound.”


Sounds like Hemingway didn't get the message.
   11. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:03 PM (#4386256)
This sounds like the effete lispings of men unable to handle a good Hobart Muddy.
   12. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:09 PM (#4386260)
Dear Primates,

Seeing as how my wine expertise is limited (basically) to Two Buck Chuck and Manischewitz, anybody have good recs for starter reds that fit a mostly veg/pescetarian diet?

Best regards,
Krusty
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4386263)
I don't really understand why American vineyards insist on making wines that are close to 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is such a harsh grape. Why don't they blend it like they do in Bordeaux?
   14. Bob Tufts Posted: March 11, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4386343)
They didn't ask Chili about his introduction to alcohol and baseball.

He showed up at instruction league in September after signing. I was the only person at the cheap hotel we used. So, how does someone that graduated from Princeton sit and talk with someone just out of high school in LA? Bourbon.

We passed at bottle back and forth and talked until we finished it. He and I were a little worse for wear.(He threw up on the sofa in the room he shared with Rich Murray).

The next day, I am throwing batting practice and he is catching (he was drafted as a catcher). We are sweating Jack Daniel's in the September Phoenix heat, and I am throwing pitches all over the place and he isn't ctaching any of the ones that cross the plate, which is a concern to the scouts (Hank Bauer, Jim Davenport and Salty Parker).

Bourbon helped put the idea in the team's mind that Chili should not be a catcher. Is there anything it cannot do?
   15. GregD Posted: March 11, 2013 at 01:45 PM (#4386358)
They didn't ask Chili about his introduction to alcohol and baseball.

He showed up at instruction league in September after signing. I was the only person at the cheap hotel we used. So, how does someone that graduated from Princeton sit and talk with someone just out of high school in LA? Bourbon.

We passed at bottle back and forth and talked until we finished it. He and I were a little worse for wear.(He threw up on the sofa in the room he shared with Rich Murray).

The next day, I am throwing batting practice and he is catching (he was drafted as a catcher). We are sweating Jack Daniel's in the September Phoenix heat, and I am throwing pitches all over the place and he isn't ctaching any of the ones that cross the plate, which is a concern to the scouts (Hank Bauer, Jim Davenport and Salty Parker).

Bourbon helped put the idea in the team's mind that Chili should not be a catcher. Is there anything it cannot do?
Awesome!
   16. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 11, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4386361)
That's a fantastic story, Bob. Did it occur to either of you that getting loaded in that situation might not be the best way to impress the scouts?
   17. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4386381)
Seeing as how my wine expertise is limited (basically) to Two Buck Chuck and Manischewitz, anybody have good recs for starter reds that fit a mostly veg/pescetarian diet?


Sure thing -there are a few serious primate oenophiles, as developing a knowledge of wine is not entirely dissimilar to taking an analytical approach to baseball.

The kinds of veggie/pesc food you're eating will dictate the type of wine. Many veggie folks I know tend to eat food that's influenced by South Asian or East Asian cuisine. Those are, frankly, a bear to pair with red wine, and you're almost always better off with an off-dry or "aromatic" white; riesling, gewurtz, etc.
Along those lines, red wines are never going to be a natural fit for a veggie diet generally, but sometimes you can hit an unexpected pairing that is all the better for being unconventional.

For non-"spiced" veggie or fish and veggie food, I'd shoot for lighter reds. If you have access to really good wine stores, the geeky answer would be something from the Jura/Arbois - i.e. a nice poulsard. There are some beaujolais that would fit your bill, but you have to be careful here as the climate and winemaking style in recent years has tended toward riper wines. Alternatively, again, requiring access to a good wine store, there's lots of geeky biodynamic/organic stuff being produced in the Loire Valley; you'd want wines that tend toward the lighter style (maybe something from gamay rather than a sturdy cab franc), as those wines can seem austere when young, especially if poured against fish.
If you're pairing against high-acid veggie foods, then an obvious place to go is Italy, where high-acid food (i.e. tomato-based) is ubiquitous. It's a waste of great wine to serve it with a high acid veggie sauce, but mid-priced sangiovese is a classic match. You can get damn good chianti for $15-25 from good producers like Felsina or Fontodi in that range. There's also a bunch of geeky option from the Italian alps - the nebbiolo based wines from Vallana are spicey and light and cheap and suitable for fish/veggie eating.

Domestically, it could be hard to find suitable wine in the under $25 category, which is what I take to mean "starter" wine. Paradoxically, there's better value in Europe these days. There are a few producers in Oregon making pinots in that range - I happen to like Montinore - but nearly any Pinot from CA worth drinking will clock in above $25. Bordeaux varietals and/or good, funky syrah (i.e. not fruit-driven) will head into the $30s quickly for anything worth drinking. You may want to look at some of the NY finger lakes reds - they tend to be lighter and "leafy" - I like Ravines, and they're in the $15-20 range.
EDIT to add that Edmunds St John makes some terrific gamay in CA that could do the trick.

I would avoid bottles from New Zealand or South Africa. That's mostly also true for Australia, but I've been on a bit of a Coonawarra kick in recent weeks and if you find a nice, not modern-styled wine from there you might get a good match - and since Aussie wines are terribly out of style, they're pretty common to find on sale.


EDIT to add, what about more robust roses? You might have your mind blown by some of the Roses coming out of the "new" producers in CA. Alternatively, look in Southern France - though the better roses out of Provence have gotten pricey, so you need to shop carefully. I'm also partial to pinot noir roses from some of the lesser appellations in Burgundy - Marsannay roses can be really, really good with fish.
   18. HOLLA(R) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4386382)
Awesome!


This. Bob, you just made my week. Thanks for that.
   19. john_halfz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4386406)
Sure thing -there are a few serious primate oenophiles, as developing a knowledge of wine is not entirely dissimilar to taking an analytical approach to baseball.


This lifestyle trend really jumped the shark when people started unashamedly referring to themselves as oenophiles. It's one thing to have general parameters, and you've amply demonstrated your superior and discerning taste in other threads, so I'm sure this doesn't apply to you, but most people simply lack the taste sensitivity necessary to take these things nearly as seriously as they do. As demonstrated by human biology and a ream of data on blind taste tests.

   20. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:01 PM (#4386414)
This lifestyle trend really jumped the shark when people started unashamedly referring to themselves as oenophiles. It's one thing to have general parameters, and you've amply demonstrated your superior and discerning taste in other threads, so I'm sure this doesn't apply to you, but most people simply lack the taste sensitivity necessary to take these things nearly as seriously as they do. As demonstrated by human biology and a ream of data on blind taste tests.



Right, but there's an element of self-selection going on. Most people who can't tell the difference between burgundy and bordeaux (not since lunch, at any rate) don't become interested in the minutia of different terroirs and winemaking techniques and such. This is not to say that there aren't people who brand-signify with wine, because there are, lots of them. But those aren't oenophiles, they're rich dudes with wine collections.

FWIW, we challenge ourselves with blind tastings once a month to keep ourselves "honest".
   21. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4386415)
Krusty -

#17 is a good post, and I am sure 'zop knows more about wine than I do, but if you are truly just starting drinking wine I would offer one tid bit of advice - don't feel the need to spend much on a bottle of wine until you have some basic parameters. No need to get a $25 chianti until you've tried a few $10-15 bottles and can differentiate it from a different red. A few years ago I would very happy with $12 bottles - now I typically spend around $18, and I can taste the inferior quality of the cheaper wines, but that took a decent while to do so. And I am sure my price will rise higher as the years go by, but that's also predicated on the bankroll keeping up.

I couple that with the knowledge that I am purchasing cheaply, and am getting an inferior product, so I don't ever rule out a grape/region/pairing/what have you. Plus, my palate definitely changes with the seasons, so maybe a reisling which I thought was too sweet was just a shitty bottle, and maybe I should try a different one a few months down the road.
   22. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:14 PM (#4386425)
#17 is a good post, and I am sure 'zop knows more about wine than I do, but if you are truly just starting drinking wine I would offer one tid bit of advice - don't feel the need to spend much on a bottle of wine until you have some basic parameters. No need to get a $25 chianti until you've tried a few $10-15 bottles and can differentiate it from a different red. A few years ago I would very happy with $12 bottles - now I typically spend around $18, and I can taste the inferior quality of the cheaper wines, but that took a decent while to do so. And I am sure my price will rise higher as the years go by, but that's also predicated on the bankroll keeping up
.

I vigorously disagree with the above. This is the wallet lying to the brain. Making wine is expensive - you have to grow the grapes, and grapes are finicky #############, then you have to harvest them - and the more careful the harvest (sorting out the rotted and underripe) the better the wine - and then you have to, you know, make the damn stuff turn from grape juice into wine. There are two ways to approach this. One is with scale, and industrial magic. You make a trillion cases of the wine, and harvest with machines, and vinify in massive vats, etc etc. And then you do some chemical "magic" to the finished product to make it taste like palatable wine, and you target the lowest common denomiator because, if you're selling 500,000 bottles of the stuff, lord knows you don't want it to be distinctive. This is how you get wine to be really cheap, particularly when made in this country. And it leads to a very homogenous style of "wine" - very slightly sweet (either just at or just below most people's level of perception), fruity, soft-textured. Kendall-Jackson made a fortune making wines like this, as did Gallo, Joel Peterson. In Europe, presumably because of subsidies and such, the cutoff is a bit lower, but still, really cheap stuff in Europe requires corner-cutting all over and industrial techniques. It is like getting your burger at McDonalds - it may be tasty, but it's not a gateway to appreciating dry-aged prime.

At around ~$15 in Europe, and more like $20 in the US (the cutoff is ~$5 lower for whites), you see a significant change - one of kind, not degree. at $20, you're in the range where you can get a wine made by "hand", in smaller batches, with real care and thought, and not requiring scale to be profitable. Here you get wines that taste different based on region or winemaker or varietal, and stuff that isn't lowest-common-denominator - that might cause someone to spit it out, while someone else is thrilled by it.

There is no purpose in buying wines that are of the trader joes/ mass-market ilk. Other than to get drunk, which is admirable enough but is sort of missing the point when it comes to wine, because good whiskey and good beer will do it just as well and much more cheaply and deliciously.
   23. john_halfz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4386430)
Right, but there's an element of self-selection going on.


Wrong.

1) Self-described oenophiles can't tell difference between decanted and undecanted wine in blind taste test.
2) Multiple studies find that cost is the variable most associated with enjoyment when self-described oenophiles are given blind taste test and told retail value (real or fictional) of wine they're drinking.

I'm not saying that good product is indistinguishable from rotgut. I'm saying that the baffling self-regard of "oenophiles" has taken an enjoyable pastime (drinking) to silly lengths. A lot of this is a function of one of marketing's greatest tricks, which has been referring to potential customers of luxury or premium goods as afcionados or connoisseurs.

I think you have better and more refined taste than most people, by virtue of practice, interest, and bankroll. So don't take it too personally.
   24. Publius Publicola Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4386433)
I'm more of a Sutter Home Bubbly Moscato man myself. Thoughts?


Pound 3 bottles and then go for a fast drive on Pacific Highway. You need to be put out of your misery.
   25. Publius Publicola Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:25 PM (#4386434)
Grgich has gotta be pushing 90 at this point, no? Shame his latest winery is making overpriced, mediocre wines, but still pretty impressive for a guy his age.


Eh, the head vintner does all the work.
   26. john_halfz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:25 PM (#4386436)

At around ~$15 in Europe, and more like $20 in the US (the cutoff is ~$5 lower for whites), you see a significant change


This is a good general rule. For people who live in Watertown. You live in New York City, though. There's plenty of fine wine available at all price points that many "experts" cannot distinguish positively from product 3-10 times as expensive. You're also subscribing to the fallacy that most people can tell if a product has been handmade.

To make this less about wine and, apparently by extension, you, many seafood experts can extol the virtues of fresh never frozen seafood...but many seafood experts do pretty poorly on basic tests like this one.
   27. john_halfz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:26 PM (#4386439)
Pound 3 bottles and then go for a fast drive on Pacific Highway. You need to be put out of your misery.


I've never had Sutter Home Bubbly Moscato, in fact. But I do appreciate the response!
   28. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:27 PM (#4386440)
1) Self-described oenophiles can't tell difference between decanted and undecanted wine in blind taste test.
2) Multiple studies find that cost is the variable most associated with enjoyment when self-described oenophiles are given blind taste test and told retail value (real or fictional) of wine they're drinking.

I'm not saying that good product is indistinguishable from rotgut. I'm saying that the baffling self-regard of "oenophiles" has taken an enjoyable pastime (drinking) to silly lengths. A lot of this is a function of one of marketing's greatest tricks, which has been referring to potential customers of luxury or premium goods as afcionados or connoisseurs.


With respect to (1), thats because decanting is (mostly) bullshit. I can't tell the difference either most of the time. Chemically, very few reductive compounds react at a quick enough rate at room temperature for decanting to matter. With respect to (2), that's true for virtually anything, including things that we could stipulate there are real quality differences, like steak or clothes or televisions or cars. Perceived price and brand always trump other factors. But crucially, even if you strip out the price/brand effect, there is still an underlying signal with wine if you are an experienced drinker (there is no signal for novice drinkers).
   29. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:28 PM (#4386441)
.(He threw up on the sofa in the room he shared with Rich Murray).


That was bourbon, though. If it had been wine, Chili would have been all over you, Bob.
   30. Publius Publicola Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:29 PM (#4386443)
Seeing as how my wine expertise is limited (basically) to Two Buck Chuck and Manischewitz, anybody have good recs for starter reds that fit a mostly veg/pescetarian diet?


Any Cabernet Sauvignon over $10 or any Pinot Noir over $15 a bottle will do you fine. Those go with anything. I'm particularly fond of the Rodney Strong Cab, which will run you about $14 bucks. But really, veg/fish dishes are usually eaten with a chilled white like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. Kendall Jackson has a really good sauvignon blanc for about $10-12.
   31. Publius Publicola Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4386444)
I don't really understand why American vineyards insist on making wines that are close to 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is such a harsh grape. Why don't they blend it like they do in Bordeaux?


Harsh? That's the first time I've heard that. You must have gotten a crappy one. I find Cabs to be very consistent and an excellent value, once you get above about $10 a bottle.
   32. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4386448)
This is a good general rule. For people who live in Watertown. You live in New York City, though. There's plenty of fine wine available at all price points that many "experts" cannot distinguish positively from product 3-10 times as expensive. You're also positively subscribing to the fallacy that most people can if a product has been handmade.



The handmade fallacy is not a fallacy in this case - there are actual differences in technique that make industrial scale wine almost always inferior to smaller-scale wine. Sorting grapes is a big one (mechanical harvesters are far inferior); difficulty in controlling fermentations; the need to use artifical flavors and techniques to "mimic" the flavors of aging in barrels. This is not to say that high-level industrial scale winemaking is not possible - it's done in bordeaux (the production numbers for the classified growths are in the hundreds-of-thousands-of-bottles) - but even without the China markup, those wines would be $20+ - and it can be done for quaffer whites where the steel-tank fermentation and slightly underripe flavors are kind of the point.

Also, while I'm sure I could get palatable wines for $10-15, it would require limiting myself in style and very selective shopping. I'd pretty much rule out cool-climate reds except for Beajolais. Its cheaper and easier to make mediocre wines in warm climates, but how many grenaches can you drink before you get bored?
   33. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4386450)
Harsh? That's the first time I've heard that. You must have gotten a crappy one. I find Cabs to be very consistent and an excellent value, once you get above about $10 a bottle.


Cabernets are harsh, and they are the worst value in domestic wine. Simply put, the good cab-growing real estate in CA is sufficiently expensive that if you are drinking cab at $15, you're drinking stuff that has been artifically flavored.

The logic behind a cab dominated wine is that it will taste harsh when young but age into something beautiful. Napa's traditionally warmer climate, in theory, allowed Cab to get ripe consistently and mitigated the need for rounding off the rough edges with Merlot (and even with the Merlot add, bordeaux can have nearly undrinkably harsh years, like 1975 or 1986 that are way harsher than any nearly any US cab ever produced)
   34. john_halfz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4386451)
[28] I'm glad to hear you're not in the decanting camp. As for the other thing, maybe you really are a super taster. It doesn't affect me either way. I like wine, too, and it pains me to see the fleecing of so many people who don't need to be in the "premium" market to obtain what they want.

The other factor is that I am very distrustful of mainstream food and drink criticism. Most of it is abjectly awful, especially in NYC. And most of those people have recently felt the need to branch into telling you about how essential it is that you try a cocktail with muddled chioggia beets...or a very certain special $72 bottle of wine, etc.
   35. Morty Causa Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4386453)
I'm more of a Sutter Home Bubbly Moscato man myself. Thoughts?


Conversation here, and elsewhere, about connoisseuring booze always brings to mind the first Bob Newhart show where he buys a bottle of cheap scotch and reads on the label: "Aged in old styrofoam kegs."
   36. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4386456)

Domestically, it could be hard to find suitable wine in the under $25 category, which is what I take to mean "starter" wine.



At around ~$15 in Europe, and more like $20 in the US (the cutoff is ~$5 lower for whites), you see a significant change - one of kind, not degree. at $20, you're in the range where you can get a wine made by "hand", in smaller batches, with real care and thought, and not requiring scale to be profitable. Here you get wines that taste different based on region or winemaker or varietal, and stuff that isn't lowest-common-denominator - that might cause someone to spit it out, while someone else is thrilled by it.


I know we are not talking about a ton of cash here, but you seem to be a bit off in your $ qualifications. All I am saying is why immediately start off at $25 when you can enjoy the taste just as much at $15. I would much rather try two different bottles of a certain type to see if I liked it.
   37. PreservedFish Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4386457)
To make this less about wine and, apparently by extension, you, many seafood experts can extol the virtues of fresh never frozen seafood...but many seafood experts do pretty poorly on basic tests like this one.


People without real expertise assume that fresh is better. (Actual experts examining frozen tuna.)

As a chef I've dealt with wine industry types a lot, and yes, there is probably a higher percentage of bullshit or hype in this industry than in most others. I catered an event for a boutique winemaker whose selling philosophy was "talk about everything except the wine" - his strategy was basically to make the marketing package so exclusive and attractive (hand-lettered and engraved bottles only available through the wine club) that the wine itself was almost irrelevant. But that doesn't mean that there aren't real experts, and real enthusiasts. I know people that have devoted their careers to wine and they would be a bit upset at the suggestion that they have just been hoodwinked by hype, that their entire professional lives are jokes.

   38. john_halfz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4386458)
how many grenaches can you drink before you get bored?


As I always say when faced with a question like this: depends on the man.

I'm not going to argue the handmade point with you. Most people would happily smoke Backwoods tobacco handrolled into a Cuban leaf and never be the wiser. I would just submit that while you know a lot about wine and wine tasting, you probably haven't been as motivated to know as much about production and business practices at the lower end of the "acceptable" market.
   39. Publius Publicola Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4386459)
1) Self-described oenophiles can't tell difference between decanted and undecanted wine in blind taste test.
2) Multiple studies find that cost is the variable most associated with enjoyment when self-described oenophiles are given blind taste test and told retail value (real or fictional) of wine they're drinking.


I don't believe this to be true. I can tell entry level wine from a good bottle of wine. What I have trouble with is telling a good bottle from a great bottle. You can tell when a wine is overfermented or vinegary or too sugary, or too oaky. That's not hard to detect.
   40. john_halfz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:42 PM (#4386462)
People without real expertise assume that fresh is better

I was thinking specifically about shrimp, which I would have specified, but that it sounds weird. I've read all sorts of fawning about how never frozen shrimp is sweeter, more delectable, etc. But offer shrimp cocktail to an offender at your home and see...
   41. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4386465)
Win.com 90+ under $20.00

Any thoughts on the wines in the link? I know they are all over the board, but I am curious what your impression is. As I said, I am not even close to your knowledge level here, but I have had a few of the wines and I enjoyed at least a few of them.
   42. john_halfz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4386466)
[39]

Fair enough.

1) Decanting is a sort of obvious myth...how much oxygenation is going to occur when a bottle is exposed to a square inch of air(bottle open), or even a few?
2) Subjects preferred sample A when told it retailed for $90 over sample B when told it retailed for $10. Sample A and B were taken from the same bottle of $20 wine...though, yes, most people do have the necessary sensitivity to discern major flaws.
   43. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4386469)
Wine.com has a singularly bad selection, and wine ratings are mostly meaningless. If you live in any sort of urban area, you're much better off researching the best store in the area, going there, building a relationship with a sales person and picking that way.
   44. PreservedFish Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:49 PM (#4386470)
An overwhelming percentage of shrimp is frozen. It's not easy to catch shrimp and get them to a restaurant or grocery store before they go rancid.
   45. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4386472)
The other factor is that I am very distrustful of mainstream food and drink criticism. Most of it is abjectly awful, especially in NYC. And most of those people have recently felt the need to branch into telling you about how essential it is that you try a cocktail with muddled chioggia beets...or a very certain special $72 bottle of wine, etc.


Dude, I am totally in agreement with you. I am essentially persona non grata on one of the major wine discussion boards because I think most contemporary wine criticism is bullshit and about signifying and in-group/out-group dynamics. All that I am saying is that homogeneity is a bad thing when it comes to wine, because the biggest asset of wine is the diversity of styles. And most cheap wine tastes the same.
   46. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:02 PM (#4386481)
Wine.com has a singularly bad selection, and wine ratings are mostly meaningless. If you live in any sort of urban area, you're much better off researching the best store in the area, going there, building a relationship with a sales person and picking that way.


I completely agree, and that's how I buy, but the site lists a lot of wines and I am not good at remembering specific bottles.
   47. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:04 PM (#4386484)
Decanting is a sort of obvious myth...how much oxygenation is going to occur when a bottle is exposed to a square inch of air(bottle open), or even a few?


There appears to be a certain set of organic compounds that form in a reducing environment that can be oxidized away with decanting, particularly if you maximize air contact (i.e., decant into a flask, rather than a bottle). What is very clear is that the notion you can "smooth out tannins" with decanting is total bullshit, as the reaction rates are way too slow. What must be happening in those cases (to the extent its not simply a total crock of ####) is that the compounds that do react quickly in the oxidizing environment must inhibit the perception of fruit in the wine, and as you perceive more fruit, the tannins are perceived to be smoother as the wine comes into "balance".

But mostly, it's just bullshit. I don't decant.
   48. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:04 PM (#4386485)
I completely agree, and that's how I buy, but the site lists a lot of wines and I am not good at remembering specific bottles.


What city are you located in?
   49. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:11 PM (#4386492)
Hah. New Hampshire.
   50. Publius Publicola Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:35 PM (#4386508)
Every now and then I'll decant for a special occasion. I don't think it makes the wine taste any better but red wine in a Waterford crystal decanter will finish any table setting.
   51. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4386518)
NH liquor stores used to be terrific when i was there for college. They've gone downhill since then.

The Beringer Napa Valley Cabernet is a fine $20 Napa cab, probably better than a $25 BV Rutherford. It should be in most stores.
Bonny Doon's wines are in many of the stores and is $15-25 and not bad. Dude is crazy, but makes decent wine when he tries.
The Catena wines are mass market, but he's got a gifted palate. I'd buy any of his wines in the $15-20 range (or the Alamos brand that's $10-15)
Ravenswood, too, mass market, but Peterson has a great palate and I'd pick that over anything else in the $10-15 range that's domestic.
Chateau Marjosse is widely available in NH and is a perfectly cromulent, merlot-heavy bordeaux that is fine if you see a 2009 or 2010 out there.
I used to see Conn Creek cabs on sale for very good prices in NH. They are a fine domestic producer and worth buying if you see for under $20.
Charles Joguet, from the Loire, is curiously widely available in NH and is very good. That would be over your price point in many cases, but if ever on sale, BUY, they are excellent.
Faiveley burgundies (from 2009 and 2010), specifically the Mercureys and Bourgogne, are good value. Highly recommended as a cheap red burgundy (and yes, $20 is a downright cheap red burgundy). Really good as a first burg as they are now making wines in a ripe, accessible style. Definitely sold to the NH stores - I'd bet the bourgogne is ~$15.
Its not a wine, but Farnum Hill cider is one of the top 2 or 3 cidermakers in the US, and is as serious as wine.
Gloria Ferrer Brut is, by far, my favorite of the widely available <$20 sparkling wines in the world. As good as Moet or Veuve, IMO. (Actually much better than Vueve, which is piss.) Gruet, from New Mexico, is also perfectly good and may be a buck or two cheaper.
Guigal cotes du rhone is widely available and very well-made.
Louis Jadot is a reliable source and widely available, including in NH. I don't like their base Beajolais-Villages, but the Chateau des Jacques Moulin a Vent is excellent. The Bourgogne is OK (but not as good as Faiveley's), and the Vaucrains Cotes du Nuits Villages is in the low $20s and is a real burgundy. In all cases, look for 2009 and 2010s.
Numerous wines imported by Kermit Lynch are sold in NH stores. The names are hard for even me to remember, but he prominently labels the wines he imports. Anything imported by Lynch will be well-made, he has an excellent palate and gives a #### about quality. His portfolio is particulaly strong in Southern France, where there are lots of sub-$20 wines.
Marquis de Riscal makes a decent, traditional Rioja, and should be everywhere.
Montinore is sold throughout NH, a good basic Oregon Pinot and IMO the best sub $20 US pinot.
Torbreck is a super modern and sweet Aussie style, but some folks dig it. The cheapest bottles in their range are <$20 and available in most NH stores.




   52. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:54 PM (#4386526)
Mmm, thanks, I will definitely be printing that list out and bringing it with me next time I buy.

Any thoughts on Decoy's Zinfandel? It has been heavily reduced in price, and I have liked it a lot.
   53. Steve Treder Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:57 PM (#4386530)
An overwhelming percentage of shrimp is frozen. It's not easy to catch shrimp and get them to a restaurant or grocery store before they go rancid.

I remember the time in a restaurant in New Orleans, I asked the waiter if the shrimp on the menu were Gulf shrimp or Lake shrimp.

"They're frozen shrimp," he deadpanned.

That sort of candor merits an extra-nice tip from me.

As for wine: having consumed enough of it in all price ranges over many decades, I've learned:

- Most wine criticsm is less than useless (so, by all means, feel free to ignore mine)
- The most important consideration is what you like
- Repeated tastings are necessary to develop a palate
- Most expensive wine (say, $30-$40 a bottle and up retail) is vastly overpriced compared to its relative quality
   54. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:57 PM (#4386531)
Any thoughts on Decoy's Zinfandel? It has been heavily reduced in price, and I have liked it a lot.


That's Duckhorn's second label, right? Duckhorn is only mediocre, but some of those old-line Cali producers get reduced so much in NH stores on clearance that they're worth the investment - a mediocre $30 bottle is a really good $15 bottle. I used to cherry pick wines from producers I wouldn't otherwise recommend - Nickel & Nickel, Ferrari-Carrano, Hess - but only when 40-50% off.
   55. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: March 11, 2013 at 05:06 PM (#4386537)
I am not surprised of Bob's story about Chili Davis. When you share a rookie card with someone, you're bound to have that kind of intimacy.

In which case, what can he tell us about Bob Brenly?
   56. BDC Posted: March 11, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4386575)
I rarely drink anything but wine or beer, and my philosophies on them are quite opposed. I drink beer once in a while for a treat, so I get the best I can; I drink one glass of red wine at 5pm every day, so I get the cheapest I can. YMMV (and all must bow to 'zop's palate, as I have learned :) but often there isn't a heck of a lot of difference between the $10 bottle of red and the $3 bottle, and there are some lovely drinkable "table wines" for $3; if you're on a maintenance dose, get them. I wholly endorse Steve's idea of drink what you like. The same applies to all kinds of pleasures with snob cultures surrounding them, including opera and olive oil.

One thing that drives me nuts about American wine stores and supermarkets is the hundreds and hundreds of brands of merlot, chardonnay, cabernet, and shiraz (not to mention moscato and "sweet red") clogging the shelves, while you often can't find a bottle of Chianti or Valpolicella. The cheap wines of Europe need more exposure here. One of the best wines I ever had was a Kekfrankos in Budapest, for which I paid the equivalent of $1.50 a bottle. I do like Trader Joe's for the $5 Montepulcianos and Nero d'Avolas; at least they're a change that you don't often see elsewhere.

I used to hold out for fresh wild-caught fish and seafood till I realized I live hundreds of miles from the g#####n ocean, so now I just get frozen or just-thawed shrimp and fish, a lot of it farmed somewhere. If you want to eat the stuff (and you should; it's tasty and healthy) and you don't live near a fishing village, don't try to buy never-frozen fish. It's expensive and often rotten.

   57. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 06:46 PM (#4386579)
I do like Trader Joe's for the $5 Montepulcianos and Nero d'Avolas; at least they're a change that you don't often see elsewhere.


If you think that's actual Montepulciano or Nero d'Avola in the bottle . . . then I have a bridge to sell you. The Italians cheat with the $100 bottles and they sure as hell cheat more on the cheap ones.
   58. Steve Treder Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:10 PM (#4386592)
If you think that's actual Montepulciano or Nero d'Avola in the bottle . . . then I have a bridge to sell you. The Italians cheat with the $100 bottles and they sure as hell cheat more on the cheap ones.

If the drinker enjoys the wine and considers it fair value for the price, why should he care?
   59. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:45 PM (#4386609)
If the drinker enjoys the wine and considers it fair value for the price, why should he care?

I'm pretty sure you just made a cave of shadows argument.
   60. Steve Treder Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:56 PM (#4386615)
I'm pretty sure you just made a cave of shadows argument.

I haven't the faintest idea. What I hope I made is an argument in favor of the proposition that, at least for most of us, fussing over wine isn't nearly as satisfying as just enjoying it.
   61. Lassus Posted: March 11, 2013 at 08:11 PM (#4386622)
As stated elsewhere, I drink about a glass of wine a year total.

My two rules for blind, non-wine-drinker buying wines that people have enjoyed:

1.) Age of vineyard
2.) Aesthetic value of the label

It's been damned successful.
   62. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 11, 2013 at 08:17 PM (#4386626)
Steve, you could make the same argument about analytical understanding of baseball. Some folks don't want to understand what they're watching, they just want to see some dingers. That's fine, I guess, but it's not how I live my life.
   63. Steve Treder Posted: March 11, 2013 at 08:24 PM (#4386628)
Steve, you could make the same argument about analytical understanding of baseball. Some folks don't want to understand what they're watching, they just want to see some dingers. That's fine, I guess, but it's not how I live my life.

Fair enough. And please don't think that I don't acknowledge value in the intense scrutiny over wine, and I know many people who derive great enjoyment from it (one of my own brothers being one of them). Knock yourselves out.

Meanwhile, I'm more than happy with my $20 Cabs. May they be dingers. Fine with me. :-)
   64. Bob Tufts Posted: March 11, 2013 at 09:13 PM (#4386642)

In which case, what can he tell us about Bob Brenly?


In the low minors, he would do the Spaulding Smails routine and quaff people's drinks when they went out to dance.
   65. Steve Treder Posted: March 11, 2013 at 09:37 PM (#4386649)
Well, see, Tufts, that's scrappiness. That's knowing what it takes to win.
   66. Steve Treder Posted: March 11, 2013 at 09:47 PM (#4386651)
Oh, by the way, Bob Tufts, I attended this game:

I would tell you that the memory never left me, but, ya know ... I was in my early 20s.
   67. BDC Posted: March 12, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4386821)
The Italians cheat with the $100 bottles and they sure as hell cheat more on the cheap ones

Well, if I'm getting cheated at $5, at least I'm getting cheated out of $2, not $97 :-D
   68. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 04:57 PM (#4387111)
'zop, thanks so muchly! That's an awesome post, and I fully intend to put it to use this weekend. I live on the Upper West Side, so there's no dearth of wine shops near me. I think I'll start on a sangiovese? I tend not to eat too much Asian-style cuisine, so I suppose my diet is fairly conventional in that way (and utterly lycopene-laden.)

   69. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4387208)
Krusty, any of the decent west side stores - Gotham, West Side Wine, the vastly overpriced Beacon or 67 Wine, or the wine store attached to Whole Foods - should have many of the above. Of course, the mecca is Chambers Street Wines - their selection is curated precisely for what you want.

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