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Tag Archives: Randall Grahm

Winebits 272: Randall Grahm, alcohol ads, wine and health

Is the world upside down? The Wine Spectator’s James Laube writes a mostly favorable profile of Bonny Doon’s irrepressible Randall Grahm. Why is this so odd? For one thing, Grahm has never had any use for the Winestream Media, scores, the kinds of wines it likes, and how the system works. For another, he once wrote of Laube: “I’d rather have a frontal lobotomy than a Laube in front of me.” Laube mostly let bygones be bygones: “The latest wines are striking for their structure and individuality. …” Though, in true Winestream Media fashion, only one of the four wines reviewed in the piece scored higher than a 90. Which, given my experience with Grahm’s wines, once again emphasizes how useless scores are.

Ban ‘em all! A British doctors’ group wants to phase out all alcohol advertising as part of its latest campaign to tackle the country’s drinking problem. The Alcohol Health Alliance says children need to be protected from booze ads; hence its plan to restrict them to newspapers and magazines with an adult readership. Eventually, all ads and sponsorships for alcohol products would be banned. This is an amazing proposal from the country that gave the world civil liberties in the Magna Carta, and raises all sorts of constitutional questions. I wonder: What would Horace Rumpole, whose love of cheap wine was surpassed only by his respect for Magna Carta, ”our ancient rights of freedom,’“ say to the doctors?

One more silly claim: The Wine Curmudgeon would be happier if health claims for wine would be banned, which I’ve done here on the blog. The only reason I’m mentioning this one is that it demonstrates why all of this is so foolish. Red wine, in moderation, can help old farts like the WC make women happy. Does this mean my natural charm isn’t enough?

Catfish meuniere, Randall Grahm, and Spy Valley

Honest wine

Honest wine is the best pairing for honest food.

The most important lesson I ever learned about seafood came from the late, much loved and much missed Merlin Kleinpeter: If you can’t buy it from Robert at Bayou Seafood, she used to say, then don’t buy it.

Which was Merlin’s way of telling me that fresh is what matters, and that any supplier who wasn’t honest about things like freshness wasn’t worth my time and money. If the crabs weren’t good that day, then Robert told her so, and Merlin didn’t buy them.

I mention this because food and wine are inextricably linked, and not just about which wine goes with which food. Pairing wine with most takeout pizza, which never tastes as good as you think it should, is one thing. That’s what $10 grocery store merlot was invented for.

But pairing wine with honest food – food that someone cared about and that required them to make an effort when they prepared it — is another matter entirely. More, after the jump:

Winebits 218: Bonny Doon, Skinnygirl, wine tastings

Whither the family-owned winery? Bonny Doon's Randall Grahm takes to his award-winning blog to ponder the future of the family winery, and more specifically his winery. Those of us who care about these things should be especially concerned when Grahm writes that his bank is not pleased with Bonny Doon's finances. The post is quite long, but worth reading — not only for the insight it offers into the modern wine business (something Grahm touched on when we had lunch last fall), but for the usual Grahm wit (as a kid, he sold first-aid kits door to door) and footnotes. Yes, he puts footnotes in blog posts. And there are people who think the Wine Curmudgeon is odd.

Bring on the Skinnygirl wine: Beam Estates, which owns a bunch of wine brands but is better known for spirits, is going to launch Skinnygirl, a line of reduced calorie wine similar to its Skinnygirl cocktails. The story in the Wine Spectator reports that the brand is aiming for 100 calories for a 5-ounce glass, which is about 25 less than it would normally have. Maybe they'll take the flavor out. The Wine Curmudgeon, oddly enough, has a passing knowledge of Skinnygirl cocktails. I was trying to convince a Dallas retailer to sponsor a local wine event last year, and he said what his chain really wanted was something like the Skinnygirl, former reality show star Bethenny Frankel, to make an appearance at one of his stores. Could we do something like that?

Georgia legislature, always on the job: Georgia legislators have decided that wine tastings at retailers that sell spirits — as opposed to retailers that just sell wine — is not a good thing. The story, from Georgia Public Broadcasting, notes that package stores would face horrendous insurance problems if allowed to do wine tastings. Which, of course, does not seem to be a problem in other states that allow wine tastings in package stores, including that well-known bastion of sensible liquor laws and erudite legislators, Texas (where I live). Still, as excuses go, it is quite original and almost as good as the one that the beer business gives when it lobbies to restrict Internet wine sales: Teenagers will buy wine online and lie about their age!

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