Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wine Brats' 1999 Top Ten Wine Predictions

At WBC 09 we met Joel Quigley, one of the original Wine Brats (now defunct). Joel turned us on to the 1999 publication, The Wine Brats’ Guide to Living, with Wine, and told us we’d be amazed at how many of their top ten predictions for the future of wine had come true. Here they are, with our comments.

Top Ten Predictions for the Future of Wine (published in 1999), by Tina Caputo.

10. Wine advertisements during the Super Bowl (oops, already happened).
'Nuff said. Though we missed the advertisement(s) referred to.

9. Screw caps will make a comeback—even on wines you’d actually want to drink!
Nailed that one.

8. Genetically altered hybrid grapevines will be able to grow Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Riesling grapes all on the same plant.
Hmmmm…this is and has always been possible through simple grafting. No need to go all GMO on us. But why would anyone want to do this?

7. Prohibition-era shipping laws will finally be updated, making it possible to send a bottle of California red to your Aunt Tillie in New York without fear of being thrown into the big house.
Progress has been made, but there remains a long way to go. In fact, many of the updates have stepped backwards, making wine harder to ship. As for sending a bottle to Aunt Tillie, you still can’t do it. Wine shipments anywhere are illegal through USPS, and just you try to convince a FedEx or UPS driver to take a bottle of wine from you. California wineries can and do ship to New York, but the regulatory compliance is daunting, requiring frequent reporting to each of New York's 62 counties. This law may be changing to allow annual reporting, but you get the idea.

6. Decent wine will be available in bars.
Thank goodness, this has been true for a long time in California, at least in the bars we frequent. What’s the report from where you live?

5. Restaurants will only charge $30 for a $20 bottle of wine, rather than $60.
Still waiting.

4. Wine marketers in the United States will realize that it’s okay to translate French wine varietals into English, i.e., Sauvignon blanc = Savage White.
Ha! Love it. But, alas, no. In fact, our federal regulators would not allow this as “Sauvignon blanc” is a recognized varietal name and Savage White is not on the official list. Sigh.

3. Beer drinkers will finally realize there’s no such thing as a wine gut, and switch!
Could be… could be.

2. Future astronauts will demand hydroponic vineyards on Mars!
We’ll have to withhold judgment on this one. But we will remind viewers of Mondovino that Michael Mondavi predicted that Martian wine would be forthcoming from his descendants.

1. Wine-flavored Powerbars!
Not quite, but keep an eye out for Clif Bar Family Winery. Really. Okay, they did just drop the "Bar" from their name, but it's them all right.

Not bad at all, Tina and the Brats. We have barely cracked the book but it looks great, and we will post a review here when we have finished. Thanks, Joel!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

WBC '09

We have spent the weekend at the 2009 Wine Bloggers' Conference. We do not wish you bore you with the nitty gritty, behind the scenes workings of this blog, but we thought you would like to know what we have been up to. This conference far exceeded our hopes, let alone our expectations.

Armed with what we have learned, we hope to write stronger, more detailed and concise posts. We also may revisit some past posts to strengthen and elaborate upon them.

In the meantime, we would like to thank the organizers and sponsors of the conference, including the Open Wine Consortium, Allan Wright and Zephyr Adventures, and the Napa Valley Vintners, among many many others (see the Sponsors page for a complete list).

We had a great time sampling the dry wines of Portugal, and we were reunited with the wines of Rueda and Sherry, from whom we have been parted for far too long. Expect to see posts on all three topics soon, with any samples (none, actually, but we did get to taste) or other influences duly noted, of course.

On Saturday the Napa Vintners generously hosted a great day. Unfortunately, most of the wines we tasted are too expensive to merit attention on this blog. All the more reason to thank Stags' Leap Wine Cellars, Palmaz, Quintessa, Newton, Parry Cellars ("Hi, Sue!"), O'Brien Estate ("Hi, David!") and Domaine Chandon for their time and wines. If you, dear reader, would like to learn more about any of these wineries or their wines, please do ask.

We would also like to thank Jim Gordon for his excellent keynote address, which focused on quality writing as the basis for any decent blog. We aspire to rise to the challenge.

David Yorgensen, O'Brien Estate Winemaker

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Sparkling wine is always a pleasure to drink, but did you know it can be a pleasure to open, as well? Oh, sure, everyone loves the "Pop" as the cork is shot across the room (mind the eyes, now). Wouldn't it be more fun to open the bottle with a slash of a big knife?

In this video, devoted friend of the site Lisa Scheff demonstrates a bottle-opening technique called sabering. Get a few practice bottles and you'll be wowing your friends in no time.

By the way, Lisa describes the Chouinard bubbles seen in the video thus:
It was light and simple--just the thing to go with burgers and potato salad." The wine retails for $16.50.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Boring wine and what to do about it

Have a boring wine (see the Rosenblum Syrah in the previous post)? Don’t just sit there, do something!

What can you do? Your imagination is your only limit. If the wine seems muted and inexpressive, decanting is worth a try. Don't have a decanter? Dig through your recycling to find an empty bottle. Rinse it out and then give it a tiny rinse of the wine in question before pouring back and forth. Aeration is key, so splashing is good, and a funnel can really help.

Nothing in your recycling bin? Try the Mollydooker Shake (tm, probably). Nevermind their explanation for it, just pour out a glass worth, and recork or put the screw back on. Shake vigorously. There will be bubbles. Open to release, and repeat 2-3 times (or as long as you want). Then pour out another glass and compare it to the one you poured out at the beginning. Better?

Or you can work on your blending skills. Have an unfinished bottle lying around? See what a combination of the two wines can do. If someone gave you a bottle you just aren’t that excited about, see if you can make both wines more exciting through blending in various proportions.

You needn't limit yourself to combining wines. You could make a mulled wine with spices and fruit you have on hand. Or add brandy, sparkling water, fruit juice, lavender.... The Ancient Greeks added all sorts of stuff to their wine, which they cut heavily with water (probably salt water).

Don't glumly drink your disappointing wine; take the opportunity to play and use your imagination to come up with something delightful. Please don't forget to share your discoveries!
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