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Wine of the week: Pennywise Petite Sirah 2012

The Wine Curmudgeon long ago accepted the fact that petite sirah didn’t taste like petite sirah, that it had been bastardized by Big Wine to taste like a darker fruit version of Read More »

winenews

Winebits 353: Special rose edition

Because rose is no longer the province of cranks like the Wine Curmudgeon, but has become real wine celebrated by the wine establishment. • Making money with rose: South Africa’s Mulderbosch, whose Read More »

winerant

What the media didn’t tell you about the CDC alcohol death study

This is not a critique of the science in the Centers for Disease Control study that equated drinking wine with dinner as binge drinking. I’m not a doctor or researcher. I’m also Read More »

winereview

Mini-reviews 65: Taris, Gruet, Cabirau, Yalumba

Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. • Chateau Taris 2012 ($6, Read More »

wineadvice

Second annual five-day, $3 wine challenge

In which the Wine Curmudgeon puts his money where his mouth is. Each night next week, I’ll drink a $3 wine with dinner and attempt to answer the question: Can a wine Read More »

Wine of the week: Pennywise Petite Sirah 2012

wineofweek

Pennywise Petite Sirah 2012The Wine Curmudgeon long ago accepted the fact that petite sirah didn’t taste like petite sirah, that it had been bastardized by Big Wine to taste like a darker fruit version of grocery store merlot on the cheap end and by high-end winemakers to taste like high-alcohol syrah or zinfandel.

So it is with great joy that I can report that the Pennywise ($12, sample, 13.5%), a California red wine, tastes like petite sirah. Really. And for only $12, which means it’s probably closer to $10 at many retailers.

Look for lots of plum, some herbal notes, quietly done fake oak, and even tannins and acidity to round everything out. The latter surprised me even more than the plum, since it seems to be the goal of most large producers to take tannins and acidity out of cheap red wine so as not to offend consumers (and that the wine suffers is just a minor inconvenience). How much did I like this wine? I’m recommending it even though the tasting notes say the finish includes “toasted cedar plank,” which is one of those descriptors that makes most of us reach for a beer.

This is a burger and weeknight pizza wine, in which the wine will do its job and make the food taste better. That’s a fine accomplishment for a $10 red wine. That it’s petite sirah is even better.

Winebits 353: Special rose edition

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Rose wine newsBecause rose is no longer the province of cranks like the Wine Curmudgeon, but has become real wine celebrated by the wine establishment.

Making money with rose: South Africa’s Mulderbosch, whose rose is regularly featured here, has discovered that rose is profitable. Or, as a leading Winestream Media outlet put it, part of the “high-flying rose segment.” Mulderbosch, which did barely any business in the U.S. save for the rose in years past, will see its rose sales in 2014 double the volume it did for all of its wines in 2013. Of course, this being the Winestream Media, the article skirts the reason for the rose’s success, that it’s cheap and tastes good. That’s too much truth, apparently.

Make it Kosher, please: My pal Lou Marmon has a dry rose, Israel’s Recanati, in his list of value Kosher wines for the Jewish High Holy Days. Lou has always been a rose supporter, and it’s good to see rose making a name for itself in Kosher wine. Which, of course, has too long been seen as nothing more than sweet red.

Revenge! Which is the Wine Curmudgeon’s poor attempt at a pop culture reference. New York’s Hamptons, home to lots of rich people, Ina Garten of “Barefoot Contessa” cooking show fame, and a very odd network TV series that includes Madeline Stowe, suffered through a rose crisis this summer. The New York Post, whose Page Six was invented to keep track of just such threats to western civilization, reported that there was very little rose to be had over Labor Day weekend. Fortunately, the situation wasn’t as bad as in 2012, when rose was rationed. Who knew? Note to rich people: The next time you run out of rose, go here. Or have your assistant do it. It lists all the rose reviews on the blog, most $10, and you should be able to find one of them the next time rose is rationed.

What the media didn’t tell you about the CDC alcohol death study

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CDC binge drinkingThis is not a critique of the science in the Centers for Disease Control study that equated drinking wine with dinner as binge drinking. I’m not a doctor or researcher. I’m also not questioning the health, emotional, and social costs of alcoholism; I’ve attended too many funerals.

Rather, this is a critique (based on a story I wrote for the Wine Business International trade magazine) of the shoddy and slipshod reporting done by most of the media, wine and otherwise, when the study was released. That is something I am qualified to do after 35 years as a journalist.

Journalism, something that I love and have spent my professional life trying to do well, is in a sorry state. How the study was covered demonstrates this all too well. Too many news organizations, regardless of size or reputation, are lazy, sloppy, and willing to accept what someone says — be it the CDC, the government, or big business — without asking questions. And journalism is about asking questions. These days, though, it’s cheaper and easier and less offensive to advertisers if you re-write a news release, throw some hyperlinks in it, and call it reporting. Or rewrite what another news organization has already rewritten.

My reason for being, even in wine, is to try not to do that. Here are the questions the media didn’t ask when the CDC study was released:

• Where did the excessive drinking standard come from? Why is the standard eight drinks a week for women and 15 for men? In fact, these come from a 2006 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and are based on the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines: “drink alcoholic beverages… in moderation, which is defined as no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.” Which is not exactly the same thing as excessive drinking.

• Why does this study contradict what one eminent cardiologist told me “is a reasonable certainty, based on hundreds of studies over the past decade, that moderate drinking as part of the Mediterranean diet that includes fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and wine, will benefit cardiac health. It’s the difference between partying and wine with a meal.”

• Why now? Why is alcohol suddenly in the spotlight? Note that the CDC study came in the wake of the proposal by the National Transportation Safety Board to lower the blood alcohol limit for drunken driving by one-third.

• Why these solutions — higher taxes, fewer liquor licenses for stores and restaurants, and an end to wet-dry elections and state deregulation? Will these prevent alcoholism, or will they penalize responsible drinkers?

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