Monthly Archives: April 2008

A Wine Scamp Bloggerpack? Surely you jest!

So months ago, Jill from Domaine 547, the hippest online wine shop run by a blogger, approached me about taking part of her blogger-pack program. I was quite excited to do so, as so many of my favorite wine bloggers have been involved already and it’s time I started hanging with a good crowd.

But what two- or three-pack of wine says Scamp? Jeff Lefevere of Good Grape did a neat selection of Alsatian varietals from the Willamette Valley. Awesome idea, and as an Oregonian I couldn’t agree more about promoting the whites from that region. Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 did a great round-the-world trip of value, very apropos for her blog. I love good cheap wine, so was full of admiration for this idea. Brooklynguy did a two-pack of Loire wines, which he recommended for the holidays, and Ryan and Gabrielle of Catavino did a grouping of great Portuguese wines.

All great concepts, and I couldn’t bear to copy anyone. So I went back in my head (envision Wayne’s World wavy lines) to the days when I taught a weekly wine class, and remembered that my favorite classes to teach were the “X Varietal Around the World” ones. And because I’m such a Syrah freak, I thought we’d go that direction. Jill agreed, and we started trying to think about what three wines could take us around the world on the Syrah magic carpet ride… for about $60 bucks.

This was seriously hard work!

See, if you’re going to do a Syrah Around the World (which could sound positively dirty if you say it right), you must have a French one. But in France, they do not make very many 100% Syrah wines — mostly, they blend Syrah with Grenache and other lovely varietals into wines called Cotes du Rhone, Chateauneuf de Pape, etc. But you HAVE to have a French Syrah, because Syrah’s done so differently there and that’s the whole point of a ‘Round the World tasting: regional styles.

The two French wines that are all or mostly Syrah are: Hermitage Rouge and Crozes-Hermitage Rouge. The former is v. expensive. The latter is rather expensive. Jill and I spent most of our debate time looking, but finally found a C-H for Not Much Money that tastes French, from the good folks at Dme Ferraton. Voila.

Then the other obligatory region in a Syrah tasting is, of course, Australia. Because we both love it and because it’s just a kickin’ value for the cash, we chose the d’Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz. (Anything, dear reader, from d’Arenberg is The Shizzle. Love them into little green apples, I do.)

Finally, a Californian Syrah. I hadn’t heard of the winery that Jill suggested, but once I tried them I was very impressed. Not telling, though, until I post the actual review.

A huge shout-out must go to my friend Lady J, who spent last Sunday on the couch watching movies and tasting (well, she was drinking) wine with me. Her presence got me to ignore the morning sickness nausea that has become my hourly companion and pop the corks that have been nagging me for weeks and weeks. Plus I knew that the bottles I opened went to a good home.

So be on the look-out for reviews of the three wines in the blogger-pack upcoming. I’ve been so remiss that I might be at the back of the blogger-pack line, but reviews you shall have, dearies, and sooner than summer this time.

As a post-script I must note that I REALLY MISS DRINKING WINE. Tasting it makes me miss it that much more. And these three bottles were SO good. Gah.

Depp Disses Illinois Wine

This week’s frivolity: evidently Johnny Depp is filming in Illinois, and “got sick of drinking the local wine,” so he shipped in wine from his home in France to get him through the duration of the filming.

This quote-unquote-news, while published I suppose to publicize a celebrity’s excess (because that’s unusual), makes me wonder various things:

What Illinois wine was Johnny drinking?

Why didn’t he just direct his entourage to purchase some CA wine, rather than shipping from France?

Or was California wine the “local wine” that the source in the article was really referring to? Was this a sort of slam against all US vintners, or Illinois vintners only?

Is French wine unavailable in Illinois, requiring one to ship in one’s own?

Did Johnny expect that drinking Illinois wine would be so delightful that he would not possibly need to pack some French bottles with him for his sojourn, and was subsequently dismayed to find himself mistaken, or what?

Yet another point to further my contention that celebrities are, in reality, robots and not actual people.

Happy Humpt-Day, the ancient celebration of putting a broken egg back together again. Good luck with all that and good night.

Say my name

The hu’b and I are having our first parenting disagreement, and since I have no reason to call Car Talk, I thought I’d present it for your consideration, gentle reader. Consider… The Name.

We were invited to see Blue Lapis Light dance on the Federal Building about a year ago, and while it was getting dark enough for the performance, I was reading through the program. I happened upon a list of donors and found the most exceptional name! Brace yourself: Pebbles. Wadsworth.

Just imagine what a woman could accomplish in the big wide world with a name like Pebbles Wadsworth Middleton! And we could nickname her PW, or P-Dub, or Bull-bull… Anyone with a name this phenomenal would invariably grow up to become a trial lawyer, a Texas politician, or a deep sea explorer.

Alas, the bean’s father can not perceive the twinkling awesomeness of this name. I still can’t understand what his objections are, as whenever he tries to talk about them, all I can hear is Pebbles Wadsworth Pebbles Wadsworth Pebbles Wadsworth Pebbles Wadsworth Pebbles Wadsworth Pebbles Wadsworth Middleton.

Oh wise denizens of the magical interwebs, what do you think? Am I guilty of intended child abuse, or the most rockingest mama in the world?

Women who drink wine don’t lose their minds

At least, not via dementia. The Vancouver Sun reported on a study conducted in Sweden, which followed nearly 1,500 women for over 34 years to study the relationship between kinds of consumed alcohol and the risk of dementia.

What they found was rather interesting, though scientists have no explanation for it. Evidently, women who reported drinking wine regularly were 40% less likely to develop dementia, even though they tended to live longer, thereby giving them more time to do so. Even more dramatically, women who reported drinking only wine (that is, no beer or hard liquor) were 70% less likely to develop dementia. Women who drank liquor exclusively had a higher chance of developing dementia. Sorry, cosmo gals.

This being said, there is counterbalancing evidence about wine and women’s health: Reuters reported Sunday on a huge San Diego study indicating that postmenopausal women who consume one to two drinks a day are 32% more likely to develop breast cancer. Postmenopausal women who consumed three or more drinks a day were 51% more likely to develop a hormone-sensitive tumor. Granted, it doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol was drunk.

So… we women wine drinkers will be completely sane as we desperately try to chase the cancer out of our boobies? Thanks for sharing, Science!

Closure kerfluffle

The Italian winery Allegrini, a reliable go-to for quality wine from the Veneto region, has announced their plans to close their bottles of Valpolicella Classico DOC with screwcaps this year, according to a Wine Spectator Online article. Unfortunately, because of silly Italian wine regulations restricting what wines can get what kind of closure, Allegrini will have to de-classify their wine to a mere Valpolicella, an appellation with less restrictions (and thus usually lower quality).

Franco Allegrini comments in the article that he’s not sure in screwcap closures are better for wines meant to be drunk young, like their Valpolicella, but that they have to use much less sulfur in the wine when they use screwcaps. This reduction of intervention would generally be thought of as a good thing, and it’s a shame that the Italian wine regulators are so hidebound to their outmoded traditions that they can’t see the advantage of modern closure technology.

Allegrini will probably get less for their wine, bottling it with screwcaps as Valpolicella, than they would bottling it with corks as Valpolicella Classico. Co-owner Marilisa Allegrini thinks this will actually help, rather than hurt, the wine’s sales, considering the dollar’s activity these days.

Funny old world in which, when your country’s wine laws work against you, it can actually boost your sales.

Midwife drives brother-in-law to prayer

So, I’m interviewing midwives for The Big Day. I mean, obviously, the right candidate will be there all through the script work, reading and rehearsals, but really it’s all about the Opening Night. (har) Never really gave it too much thought, honestly — not like I do when I realize there might be a raised eyebrow or two over my lefty, granola behavior, given my state of residence. I always figured I’d see a midwife instead of an OB/GYN, as I was planning to get pregnant, not sick.

But my 74-year-old father-in-law, who is the last of the blue collar democrats and understands the political implications of a woman’s right to choose and everything, was severely taken aback by the midwife thing. Like, way.

I’ve talked to Dad-in-Law a little bit, explaining that 70% of births in Japan and Europe are attended exclusively by midwives, and that those countries have much lower infant and maternal mortality rates than the US does. I’ve also explained that midwives will only take on low-risk patients, so that if the tyke is presenting breech or I’m having twins or something, they’ll march me off to an obstetrician post-haste. I’ve even considered buying him a copy of The Business of Being Born, which I heartily recommend to you all. Slowly but surely, I think I am calming his fears for me and his new grandbaby.

Not so in the case of my brother-in-law, who told my husband that working seeing a midwife instead of a doctor was “dumb,” and that he’d be praying for our family. Brother Dear is certainly closer to The Jesus than I am, but I wouldn’t call them bosom buddies. Thusly, I think a thank you card from one of the trinity would be a nice gesture, since my reckless trusting of midwives has so fervently brought my in-laws closer to god.

That being said, of course I’ll take all the prayer I can get.

Sour grapes

What I’m learning about myself is that twofold: I am cheap and I am petty. As these are not two traits I was hoping would be in my Fave 5 as I contemplate motherhood, I am holding on desperately to the belief that they are fleeting.

Trait The First: Man alive, but I hate opening a bottle of wine just to taste it and give (throw) it away! Hate the very notion of it! Abhor, detest and abominate! But what else is a spitter to do?

Trait The Second: Why should everyone else get to drink wine except me? Why should I tell people about neat wine without getting to drink it like everyone else? Why should I even bother reading about wine when I’m not going to be able to enjoy it? And while we’re on the subject, why can’t I eat soft, unpasteurized cheeses and sushi? This whole knocked-up scene sure has a lot of Don’ts involved. Maybe I am whining, but honestly now — wouldn’t you?

Poor pitiful me aside, I’m very irritated with wine and all the limitations it symbolizes for me right now. I’m not a big person, as it turns out, but rather a slave to my comforts… but they’ve sold me down the river, and along I float without a drop to drink.

Bah, humdinger.

Postscript: I wish I could say I’m missing a particular wine variety or region, but really I miss a nice big glass of it.  Food-wise, what mostly doesn’t make me want to hork these days is sour food.  I am gestating a Sour Patch Kid, it seems.

Less wailing next time, gentle reader, I promise.