Think Globally, Drink Locally and Stop being such a Snob!

A little over a year ago a couple of really smart guys did a study about what goes into a bottle of wine’s carbon footprint. Turns out that the vineyard itself is actually carbon neutral and depending upon fertilizer choice and harvesting techniques can actually go negative (if you believed Ronald Reagan in the 80’s you aren’t going to get that point). The biggest contributors to the production of CO2 in the manufacture of a bottle of wine are the packaging and the shipping. So what have wineries and wine regions been doing to either a) minimize the CO2 being created or b) exploit this fact to ensure that their wines are seen as the “greener” choice by consumers? More important, what can we, as consumers, do to encourage green behavior and make greener choices?
Continue reading “Think Globally, Drink Locally and Stop being such a Snob!”

Unlucky? Yes. Unthirsty? HELL YES!!!

On a Monday when I have chased after a runaway dog in my bathrobe, unleashed a torrent of scalding water inside my house and incurred $500 in charges from the plumber — all before nine in the morning! — I think it’s fair to say I need a drink. Right. Now.

So I couldn’t be happier to find a Google Maps app for directionally challenged lushes. You have to love the “happy hours at this very moment” checkbox. Unthirsty, where have you been all my life?

I’m off to get that drink!

Holy Jesus Juice by the bottle

From time to time I get to thinking…I know, thinking is a dangerous things, but I fall prey from time to time. So this morning I got to thinking about the whole ‘Swallow, don’t Spit’ thing, which lead me to thinking about drinking wine, which lead to thinking about wine in general. And then I thought: Where the hell do they get the wine for communion!!?? I mean, really, does the priest just run down to the local 7/11 on his way to mass on Sunday? While out dining does a priest come across a rather good vintage and think, “Hey, that would make a good Jesus. It has nice body!” Is it ok to use any type of wine for Christ sake or does the Blood of Christ have to be of a certain grape. Who decides? Can I wine be blended and if so with whom does it get blended….St. John? St. Mary Magdalene? One of the many patron saints of wine-growers ? How much should one spend on a bottle of Jesus Juice? Does Boone’s Farm make a Christ Blend?
Well I did a little research and found that Christ Blood cannot be found at your local discount wine chain…it’s here!!! Thank God we don’t have to see the labels as they would scare the hell out of anyone… Anyone wanna come over for a little ‘Swallow, don’t Spit’ with Jesus and me? Oh, and case you are wondering how to dispense of Christ, check this out ! Now that’s what I call Fast Food for Christ sake!

I really need to get out of the house more, or not be left alone for so long!!

Forget Spit and Swallow….Just Breathe

With all the fuss of scent and bouquet of wines, with the chance of bruising your vodka, and the damning offense of not warming your cognac properly, you would of thought that someone would have thought of vaporizing alcohol sooner. Now a British company has done just that. The machine that converts alcohol into breathable mist, the one that supposedly creates a low-calorie, hangover-free buzz, is apparently perfectly legal, according to state officials. AWOL, or Alcohol WithOut Liquid, has hit our shores. Well chock another one up for the British invasion, and just when I was getting used to Snorts.

Sofia Coppola in a can

That’s right, Coppola vineyards is offering a “Sofia blanc de blancs” champagne (er, sparkling wine, pace the French) in 187 ml cans, with a straw attached, to make champagn more palatable and convenient for younger drinkers. I actually think it’s a great idea, especially if it tastes decent. Meg and David’s visit left me with a greater appreciation of champagne… having a few of these cans around could be a good way to have that impromptu celebration when you don’t want to open a whole bottle of champy.

Food and Wine: Le Divorce

Slate ‘s Mike Steinberger has a great article on how parallel trends in food and wine (toward a certain level of “irrational exuberance”) create a collision at the table. His well-argued thesis is that more aggressive tastes are harder than ever to pair. It’s hard to disagree, but then again it’s also hard to get to riled up about it… does that make me a Philistine?

World peace at hand

As many of you who know me are aware, I believe that world peace can only really ever be achieved by the careful use of either pork or alcohol. The alcohol is easy. Get everyone really drunk and either they’ll get it all out in a nice, healthy, barroom brawl, or they’ll all just pass out and feel stupid the next day for having kissed a dozen rugby players and a couple of women the night before.

The pork thing is pretty easy to figure out too, though. Think about it. Most of the major world conflicts are between non-pork eating cultures. India and Pakistan. Iran and Iraq. Isreal and the Palestinians. Etc. I mean, you don’t really see a whole lot of Italians and Spanish going at each other, do you? And yet you do see a whole lot of Italians and Spanish sitting around drinking wine and munching on excellent ham. So there you go. Anyway, the secret to world peace, I’m ever more convinced, is a big old pig roast. Just think about it. Get all these bigwig muckety-mucks down to W’s ranch for some good beer and a barely solid pig that’s been slowly turning on a spit for a few days over a low fire…The thing is, after something like that, you’re incapable of not loving your fellow man. I just want, if W gets around to trying this little endeavor, to be given a share of that Nobel Peace Prize for having come up with this brilliant idea in the first place. In fact, I’d say let’s just do it at my Pa’s farm, but the whole secret service thing would probably make the horses nervous.

Anyway, in the same vein of the mutually enhancing properties of alcohol and pork, this editor dude named Josh Karpf has a description of his search for the perfect pork martini on his Web site

It’s a brilliant idea, not too far from another porky endeavor Pete and Mike and I will make millions off of one of these days. But it’s also such a hoot of a read. For example:

Tasting was overseen by a collection of sprightly, generic-yet-authentic Cole Porter oldies such as “Let’s Do It,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “Always True To You in My Fashion.” Hot, salted Chinese “imitation” egg noodles and tap water were on hand to clear the palate. And there was even a lovely blond in the room: me.

The sweet dried pork Martini, despite the lack of apparent surface oil, coated the bottom of my upper lip with a tangy pork greasiness. I was casually impressed, though I began to worry about what the more visibly oily pork vodkas would later offer. The chilled Martini had a piggy bouquet beyond its plain pork-vodka aroma. Was that the endothermic effect of the chilled liquor alerting the nose, or the action of the herb-steeped vermouth? I sipped a little. No aftertaste or aftereffect beyond the expected tummy warmth. Little flavor at all, in fact. Dried meats would seem less than optimum.

The ground pork Martini’s scent was powerful with essence of pork patty. This is not a cocktail for the pork Martini dilettante: Like specifically demanding from your bartender a “vodka Martini” instead of the understood default gin Martini, you’ll have to specify the “pork patty Martini” instead of a vanilla version, and make sure he or she fries the pork just right, searing the surfaces, draining the fat, and not letting it burn while you chase Naomi or Leonardo into a restroom. Come back when it’s mixed. Wow. This Martini packed a pork wallop. The aroma was overpowering, I have to admit. But that masked the oil; I saw the oil before, really, see my comments under “Transmogrification,” supra, but I tasted no oil. I declaim this a Martini you will love or hate, no middle ground. You could get drunk on the bouquet alone, a secondary high. Your neighbor will notice — and I mean your next-door neighbor, as you mix this at home, not the crackhead on the next barstool — and ask “Hey, is that pork you’re drinking?” “Yes!” you trumpet proudly. A great way to make new friends. Unless he or she is a vegetarian. But who wants a vegetarian friend?

You should, most definitely, take a look at the site too, if not to read the rest of the article, then at least to see the rather unnerving photos of the various pork martinis he tried.

And elsewhere on his site, Tales from the Coop, his take on meetings from the Park Slope Food Coop should appeal to those who’ve ever been on any sort of board that drove them crazy.

Recalling California wines

I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t enjoy California wines… they are almost as overpriced and snobby as French wines and many are just as ill-mannered. Slate has a great piece on the increasing crisis in the California wine industry by columnist Mike Steinberger (whose observations I am really coming to enjoy).

To quote Mike:

Americans are also expanding their wine horizons: Wine drinkers are often weaned on Napa merlots and Sonoma chardonnays but then become more adventurous, dabbling in Loire whites, Rhone reds, and other imports. Many find they prefer the foreign stuff, which usually has a lot more character and goes down better with meals. (California wines tend to be abusively oaked, high in alcohol, and low in acidity, making them distinctly food-unfriendly.)
But none of this adequately explains the contempt so many oenophiles now seem to feel for California wines. They aren’t just shunning them; they are cursing them. At any gathering of wine fanatics, you’re apt to find one person, and usually more, who will claim to have entirely sworn off California. The manager of a major East Coast wine store recently told me he no longer sets foot in his shop’s California section unless a client can’t be convinced to try something else.
In fact, California produces almost nothing worth drinking for under $15, a failure that borders on criminal. Finding something in this range that is merely inoffensive is a challenge, a point underscored by a recent feature in the Los Angeles Times. The paper gave four local sommeliers $300 each to come up with a list of good, fairly priced wines (fairly priced was loosely defined). Of the 39 wines selected, exactly one was from California. “There’s no price-quality ratio in California anymore,” David Rosoff of Opaline restaurant explained, “Great mistakes were made here …”

The biggest mistake is vanity: Most of the California producers with the means, skill, and desire to make good wine seem to measure success by the price tag on the bottle and would sooner flog pickles than “devalue” their brand by selling a $15 cabernet. You’d think one of California’s star oenologists might be inspired by the examples in France of great winemakers—Aubert de Villaine and Dominique Lafon come to mind—who are happily slumming it on the side, producing terrific, inexpensive wines from satellite appellations. But apparently that isn’t the California way.

OK, there are a few exceptions. Mike lists Ridge, which is generally great, and I am of course a huge fan of David Bruce (especially the luscious Petite Syrah that Bob and Terry cellar).

OK, now I’m ready to leave the office and drink. I’m going to try to stay for at least another hour.

Boxed wine consumption: A mark of sophistication?

Copied straight from my newsletter (a great marketing trend site):

Boxed Wine. One in five glasses of wine consumed by Americans comes from a box, reports Frank J. Prial in The New York Times. “We’re third,” he continues. “In Australia, boxes have half the wine market and in Norway…they claim a third.” In Britain, “the market for boxed wine is growing twice as fast as that for bottled wine.” Ryan Sproul, who markets a three-liter, Napa Valley 2001 Chardonnay called Black Box, says boxed wine is growing in popularity “because consumers have come to realize that the wine is more important than the packaging.” The quality of the wine inside does count, of course — Black Box actually “won a silver medal in a competition sponsored by The San Francisco Chronicle.”

The truly surprising thing here, however, is that boxes make great wine vessels. That’s because the “triple-layer clear-plastic…bag that holds the wine” inside the box is airtight. The bag contracts as the wine is dispensed, keeping remaining wine in “perfect condition, for a surprisingly long time.” It’s an innovation claimed by the Australians, which they say dates back 30 years. It is most associated in America with cheap, sweet wines, sold mostly in “supermarkets and working-class liquor stores.” The typical American box of wine, marketed by vintners such as Almaden and Franzia, holds five-liters and sells for “$8 to $12 , or $1.35 to $1.75 a bottle.”

Labels like Black Box, however, are selling for 25 bucks a box. Australia’s BRL Hardy has a line of chardonnay, shiraz and merlot priced at $16. A “magnum-size, organic bag-in-the-box wine called Our Daily Red,” actually depends on boxing — because it contains no sulfites it “soon becomes unstable in an opened bottle.” In London, “a recent tasting…featured 30 bag-in-the-box wines, all of them serious entries from France, Spain and Italy.” Mr. Prial concludes: “We Americans are still pretty insecure when it comes to wine. We still place undue importance on the bottles, labels and corkscrews. But, as the figures show, we’re changing.”