Category Archives: Wine Curmudgeon

Once more into the Super Bowl breach


super bowlOne of the biggest shocks in the 8 1/2 year history of the blog is that Super Bowl Sunday is the worst day for visitors every year. It’s worse than Christmas and New Year’s, both of which are actually pretty good days for traffic.

The Wine Curmudgeon does not know why this is, but I do know that it annoys the hell out of me. I am an ex-sportswriter who was so worn out by pro sports that the only thing I still pay attention to is baseball and my Chicago Cubs, and one can argue that the Cubs are not sports or very professional.

So the country’s obsession with the Super Bowl leaves me at a loss. I haven’t watched the game since 1986, which is more or less the last time I got paid to watch it.

Nevertheless, because so many of you do care, I offer you this wine story about the Super Bowl from the New York Times — “Wine Here! A Football Bud Gets Competition,” which includes a cartoon as badly conceived as that headline and this truly dreadful lede: “Beer and football may go together like wine and cheese. But lately more and more people seem be favoring a Bordeaux over a Bud Light.”

Which would have made me rise from the copy desk, pica pole in hand, to chase down the offending reporter (if my pal Johnny D. Boggs hadn’t already forcefully reprimanded the miscreant).

The point of all this is that since the game is being played in suburban San Francisco, which is in wine country, there must be a wine angle to the Super Bowl (even if Bordeaux is a French wine region). To the reporter’s credit, he quotes an expert, some former NFL types, and a wine person or two. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make the story any more interesting, and it’s way too long, but if you’re on deadline and the composing room is screaming for the copy, you spell check it, slap a headline on it, and hope for the best.

Right, Johnny?

The WC’s favorite posts of 2015

cheap holiday wine
favorite posts

“Even I liked the rose post, and I’m too cool to care.”

Anyone can do top 10 posts, but only the Wine Curmudgeon can end the year with what I thought were my seven best posts in 2015. These weren’t necessarily the best-read; we have Google to thank for that. Rather, these are my favorite posts of 2015, the ones that I enjoyed writing, thought were important to write, or both. But, for whatever reason, they didn’t get the attention they deserved:

Is wine the last bastion of the snob? A discussion about why wine, despite the leveling and democratizing influences of the Internet, still attracts snobs. And with a guest appearance from New York Times film critic A.O. Scott.

Champagne Jayne and the new censorship: How post-modern big business uses its legal and financial clout to silence those it doesn’t agree with. That hardly anyone in wine appreciated what happened to Aussie wine writer Jayne Powell this year — and that what happened to her could happen to them — is mind-boggling.

Let the computer write the wine reviews: A look at the 21st century technology that may make it possible for artificial intelligence to put together wine reviews, which says as much about wine writing as it does about advances in artificial intelligence.

The Wine Curmudgeon as hipster: Dude, he likes rose: Quite possibly — and I say this with all due modesty — the greatest blog post ever written about rose and its place in hipster culture. Wine can be so silly, yes?

The Comet Lovejoy wine phenomenon: A terrific joke about the three-tier system, tucked into a bit of satire about comets and how they give off alcohol as they travel through the solar system. Wine humor the way it should be, and not as it too often is.

Wine Spectator: If you can’t buy it, we won’t review it: My annual April Fool’s Day post, in which the Spectator comes off as only the Spectator can (and in which I refuse to be interviewed by myself).

How to buy wine at the grocery store: Solid, hard-hitting advice about overcoming the grocery store Great Wall of Wine, which was only the 25th most read post this year. Given that this sort of thing is my reason for being, that’s quite depressing.

Cheap holiday wine

cheap holiday wine

“Yes, but where did they hide the alcohol percentage?”

The Wine Curmudgeon was in august company earlier this month, helping several of the top restaurant wine people in Dallas pick cheap holiday wine for The Dallas Morning News’ regular wine feature. It was a fascinating experience, and not just because we found some terrific wine for the paper’s readers. Rather, I got to see wine from a different perspective — those who buy wine for restaurants, and where the cost of the wine isn’t as important as to them as it is to me.

Among the highlights of the tasting, which looked at wines costing less than $13 or so:

• The best wine of the tasting? A long-time member of the $10 Hall of Fame, the Chateau Bonnet white. The best red was also French, the Jaboulet Parallèle 45 Rhone blend, and which tasted fresher and more interesting than the last time I had it.

• How much terrible cheap wine is there in the world? So much that even I was surprised, and I probably taste more crappy wine than almost anyone. Too many of the wines were embarrassments — no varietal character, fruitiness verging on sweetness for wines that weren’t supposed to be sweet, and flaws like unripe fruit and off aromas.

• Availability reared its ugly head more than once. One wine we wanted to recommend, the Zestos rose, didn’t make the final cut because the only Dallas retailer that carried it out was almost sold out. This, said several panelists, happens more often than not, depriving readers of quality wine. Also, there were too many old and worn out wines in the tasting, because Dallas retailers leave them on the shelf instead of dumping them for newer and fresher vintages.

• The restaurant perspective was fascinating. I evaluate wines by price — is there value for money? Hence, I don’t treat a $5 wine the same as I do a $50 wine; I expect more of the latter. The restaurant perspective, if not exactly the opposite, is about quality. Is it a quality wine to serve to their guests? If so, then they decide if it’s worth the money.

Finally, a tip o’ the WC’s fedora to my pal Tina Danze, who oversees the tastings, for asking me to participate. It was much fun, and I was flattered she wanted my cheap wine experience on the same panel with people like Paul Botamer, the wine director for Fearings at Dallas’ Ritz-Carlton.

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