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Category Archives: Wine Curmudgeon

2,500 posts and free wine glasses

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free wine glassesScreenshot free glassesAnd the winner is: Bob Judd, who selected 515; the winning number was 515 (screen shot to the right). Thanks to everyone who participated, and especially to those who left such kind messages with your entry. That’s what helps keep me going when the grind gets overwhelming.

Last week, between preparing for my El Centro class, working on a couple of free-lance pieces, and overseeing the Wine Curmudgeon empire’s day-to-day operations, I didn’t notice that the blog ran its 2,500th post. Which, if it doesn’t make me Ty Cobb, puts me in Hall of Fame company. And since I believe in rewarding the people who have kept this thing going for 2,500 posts — you, the readers and visitors — it’s time for free wine glasses.

Yes, a wine glass giveaway — four Lori Dennis Home Unbreakable Wine Glasses, stemless and made with premium acrylic to work like glass. That means they won’t shatter, stain, or dull; they’re heavy in the hand like glass; shatterproof, because they’re plastic; and easy to clean (top shelf dishwasher safe). Plus, says Dennis, a portion of the proceeds from every sale benefits Habitat for Humanity.

The usual contest rules apply. That means pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section of this post to wine the free wine glasses. You can’t pick a number someone else has picked, and you need to leave your guess in the comments section of this post — no email entries or entries on other posts. Unless the number is in the comments section of this post, the entry won’t count.

If you get the blog via email or RSS, you need to go to this exact post on the website to enter (click this link to get there). At about 5 p.m. central today, I’ll go to random.org and generate the winning number. The person whose entry is closest to that number gets the free wine glasses. 

Finally, you’ll see several changes to the blog over the next week or so — updating its look, making it more mobile friendly, and faster loading times. The site should still be just as easy to use, but a little more 21st century in how it works. Many thanks to Kermit Woodall of Woodall Design for his patience and perseverance through this process, given all the hand holding he had to do.

El Centro wine class evolves into beverage management

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el centro wine classMy El Centro wine class has evolved into beverage management this semester, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do wine any more. Rather, it speaks to the school’s commitment to upgrading its curriculum (and there may be big news about that later this spring), and I’m flattered that I get to help.

Beverage management covers most of what students need to know to understand how the wine, beer, and spirits programs at a restaurant work. In one respect, it’s not much different than what we did in the wine class, since I spent class time talking about putting together wine lists, how to deal with distributors and sales people, and the rest of restaurant wine.

What’s different is that the class is more rigorous in what students learn, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The wine class was wine appreciation taught through my perspective; beverage management offers my perspective, but it’s more than that. Par stock may seem boring, but it’s crucial if you’re going run a successful operation. Why do restaurants always not have the wine I order when they never run out of chicken breasts?  That’s one of the secrets of par stock.

Plus, we get to taste beer and spirits as well as wine.

The only drawback is that the class is less consumer friendly than the wine class was. Having said that, it should still be worthwhile for anyone who wants to take it as continuing education, something El Centro emphasizes. Where else can you listen to me rant about three-tier or offer my insights into high alcohol wine?

Finally, a word about my students this semester. I’ve never had a bad class, either here or at the Cordon Bleu in Dallas, and rarely any bad students. This is one reason why I don’t sound like an old white guy when I talk about younger people. But this class, so far, has done most of them one better. They pay attention, they ask good questions (though I wish they would ask more) and they’re a whiz at cleanup after class. What more could a teacher ask for?

Cheap wine: What do I expect?

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cheap wineA visitor left a comment the other day in the first $3 wine challenge post: “Hey, it cost less than $3. So what did you expect?” Hence this post, because even though a cheap wine doesn’t cost much, that doesn’t mean it has to taste cheap:

 • Varietal correctness. Cabernet sauvignon should taste like cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay like chardonnay, and so forth. Otherwise, what’s the point? Should we just have two gigantic Big Wine vats, one red and one white, and everything can come out of that?

 • Value for money. No, a $3 wine isn’t going to taste like a $100 wine, and I don’t expect it to. I do expect it to offer value and to be the best $3 wine it can be. Otherwise, what’s the point? If we just want cheap crap to get drunk on, then we can drink Thunderbird and Night Train.

• An honest effort from the producer. The wine business’ cynicism is what keeps wine from being more popular in this country, and too much cheap wine proves that point. Producers make junk like the $3 challenge wines, or this wine club plonk, because they’ve taught Americans — like the man who left the comment — not to expect anything better. Or, even worse, the wine business knows most wine drinkers don’t know any better, think the $3 swill is OK because it costs $3, and are too confused to figure out what’s going on.

All of which is a horrible way to sell anything, and especially horrible for something that’s as much as fun as wine. Can you imagine what would happen if the car business worked that way? Which, as it happens, the car business once did, and the result was the very flammable Ford Pinto. One day, perhaps, the wine business can give us cheap wine as satisfying as today’s cheap cars (like my much beloved Honda Fit).

Until then, I’ll keep expecting more than they want to give us.

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