ALL-IN ON BOOK REVIEWS: Do you have a (non-fictional or fictional) book related to wine, spirits, or beer that you'd like reviewed? Contact me!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Distill Wars Episode III: Ahus vs. Austin

I was thinking that it's been awhile since I did a Distill Wars Episode so I went ahead and raised it from the dead. This time... it's VODKA!

Vodka meme

I usually stay away from vodka mostly because of things like the example pictured above: It'll mess you up. And also it's just filtered ethyl alcohol (with some water, sweeteners and numerous chemicals added that they don't want you to know about). I would love to get my hands on a copy of Vodka Enthusiast to see what the hell a vodka drinker thinks is so great about it. Ya know, other than it will mess you up. Maybe I'll learn something tonight.

So here we go... I bought myself a nip of Absolut Vodka ($2.25) and a nip of Tito's Handmade Vodka ($1.79). Who will be crowned the winner?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

$7 Nero D'Avola is the real MVP

So good. So inexpensive. The real MVP.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Magic Potions & Formulas of Wine - Part 2: Mega Purple and Enologix

If you haven't read The Magic Potions & Formulas of Wine - Part 1 yet then you should go read it before you continue. That first installment gave an introduction to the concept of wine formulas, the blending of trending grapes into other varietals, and additives used to fix faults and create consistency. Part 2 picks up where it left off with the addition of grape concentrates, then modern machinery used for manipulation, and concluding in wines designed to receive high scores.

In that first half I made it clear that, although this information may come to some as shocking, it may not be all that bad. Learning of additives and manipulations is both disappointing and sometimes gross. It takes away from the romance of the earth to the vine to the glass concept. But, in the end, a formulated wine is about making an enjoyable one. Whether that's for the everyday average Joe, the wine knowledgeable, or the reviewers that hand out the scores. This is the age of technology, information and marketing. Virtually everything is "improved" upon for one reason or another, including wine.

This next one here, though... this one seems to affect every wine lover when they first hear about it. We have a great connection to the aromas and the flavors of wine, but the color is something we can either focus on and admire or pass right on over. Either way, you'll never look at another glass of red the same way again...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Magic Potions & Formulas of Wine - Part 1: Mass Appeal & Cover-ups

It's something that's not talked about much. The fact that wines, especially conglomerate American ones, are formulated to either have mass appeal or to get a high rating score isn't really something that the industry wants you to know about. It takes away from the romance. Wine is supposed to come from the Earth and be representative of that year's harvest, right? The winemaking process is just different strategies on fermenting and aging, right? LOLZ.

Witches Brew
Many people are shocked when they find out the stuff I'm about to go over and they tend to go into depression for a week. But when you get over the fact that wine is no longer just about the beauty and hard work of viticulture and the miracle of fermentation, and embrace that we live in the age of technology, information and marketing and virtually everything is "improved" upon, you might realize that it's not all that bad of a thing. In the end the purpose is to make good wine to enjoy... so you'll buy it.

Take California's extremely popular, top-selling Kendall-Jackson Reserve Chardonnay. People love it, although it's criticized by many wine professionals and self-proclaimed experts, but the fact is that it's a really tasty Chardonnay for the price. Word on the street is that it was also the first popular formulated (semi-)fine wine. They want it to taste the same every year, like the houses of Cognac and Scotch aim to do. They want you to enjoy it every year and they succeed every year, having an insane amount of people buy it by the case... every year. It's also a "gateway" wine, making people realize they like wine or that upgrading from $9 magnums and paying a little more money for a smaller bottle and better quality is worth it. Sure it's not complex and terroir driven or whatever your problem is with it, but what's wrong with a delicious wine that does an excellent job at making people wine lovers?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Wine Review: Charles & Charles 2013 Rosé

Charles & Charles 2013 Rosé

I'm not just a complete sucker for port-like fortified wine; I'm also a sucker for rosé. Of course I've had rosé that weren't as good as others but I've never had one I didn't like. There's just something about rosé that's got me. So it's about time I reviewed one, huh?

Charles Smith is one of the more fascinating winemakers in the world today. He's got long, blonde frizzy hair that will remind you of both Sammy Hagar and Sideshow Bob at once. The guy came from Sacremento, California and worked in restaurants until he moved to Denmark to manage bands during the '90's. He came back to the USA in 1999 and found himself in Washington State. His love of wine from his restaurant days was reignited while passing through Wall Walla and soon he was buying grapes and delivering his wine to retailers in a van that wasn't suitable for driving to his own mailbox. Now he's a rock star in winemaking and completely down to earth when it comes to marketing, labeling and pricing of his wine.

Charles Smith makes highly acclaimed high-end wine under his K label, and his Charles & Charles label has wines that far exceed their inexpensive price point. The Velvet Devil Merlot is tasty as hell (get it?) and the Post 35 Red Blend is RIDICULOUS for $11. But I have to admit as a Riesling lover, even though it was one of the Top 100 Wines of 2014 by Wine Spectator, I'm not a fan of Kung Fu Girl Riesling. Ah well, to each his own.

I'm about to see how I feel about the Charles & Charles 2013 Rosé.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What I've got going for me.

What a relief! I thought it might be a night without wine!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Reviews: Jean-Luc Baldès Esprit de Flore 2010 Cahors, St-Rémy VSOP Brandy and Tempo Tonight Hangover Nutrients

Esprit de Flore Cahors and Tempo Tonight

Cahors is the self-proclaimed "Capital of Malbec". It's a region in southwest France that claims to be the birthplace of the grape, with the wine nicknamed "The Black Wine of Cahors" because of its deep pigment. Most people know Malbec from its Argentinian success, where the altitude gives it thick skins and the terroir is a perfect fit, but it originates from France and is one of the grapes used in Bordeaux. And Cahors is my favorite expression of Malbec.

Esprit de Flore Cahors is a wine I've really been looking forward to writing a review about. This Cahors is the funnest, most interesting and complex $13 bottle of wine I've ever had. For awhile in 2013 I was absolutely obsessed with it. I would make one bottle last four hours and it would continually evolve throughout that time span, ending completely different from when it started, like a bottle worth much more than it cost. But it's not for everyone and you'll quickly see why.

I'll also be reviewing a product: Tempo Tonight, Fine Nutrition for Hangovers. I'll admit I'm kind of a light weight in the next-day department, and normally the day after drinking a whole bottle of wine I'm a big baby. I get all tired, cranky, sluggish, and lazy. And carrying around a throbbing headache if I didn't hydrate appropriately. So I'm the perfect subject to test this product. Tempo Tonight is a capsule thingy containing a bunch of different vitamins, minerals, herbs and enzymes in capsule form. All you do is "take two capsules before you head out and two when you get home." But we'll see if it actually works... with the help of St-Rémy VSOP Brandy.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Say "Connoisseur" ONE MORE TIME!

"So you're the connoisseur?"
Why does that word annoy me so much?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February Wine Pick: Gerard Bertrand 2009 Banyuls

This WINE PICK of the month was written for the Luke's of Cape Cod website.

Gerard Bertrand 2009 Banyuls

February is generally the month when I drink fortified wines just because it's the coldest month of the year. I like to have a taste of something that will warm me up and lift my spirits inside my own home while it's frigid and unforgiving outside.

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