Friday, August 31, 2007

Ferment me wildly, baby

Last night we had a 2006 Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay. I admit I bought it because the label, which looks handwritten, and I was intrigued by the “wild ferment” part. I sort of invisioned people with buckets of yeast dancing around (like in sort of a ritual circle style) and singing and tossing yeast into vats of grapes. Sounded fun and since I do adore chardonnay, I couldn't pass up this bottle for $13.

Its from Chile and it was really quite yummy, although I’m positive my non-chard loving friends would probably not like it, as it has butter and oak. Although its tastefully done and it’s pretty complex, there’s still butter and oak. Tasting notes:

Our 2006 Chardonnay Wild Ferment is a complex wine with a rich mineral and citric character. The mouth-feel is soft and persistent, displaying elegance and finesse. Malolactic fermentation contributes buttery notes and richness, with well integrated toast and vanilla from barrel ageing providing the backdrop.

Yum. Its not that I ONLY like buttery oakey chards, because I’ve had a few that aren’t oaked that I like as well as quite a few overly buttery ones, but I do tend to prefer wines like this. It was around $13 and its from Chile, where you can typically get more wine for your money, so it was for sure worth the price.

Anyway, about this whole wild fermenting thing:

Wild fermentation is a process carried out using native yeast. Since the yeast are not selected using technological criteria (SO2 resistance, alcohol resistance, etc), they experience higher stress during fermentation. This effect, coupled with the presence of more strains during wild fermentation, produces different concentrations and byproduct proportions, adding distinctive flavours –and therefore more complexity– to the wine.

Hmm. During my search, I found there are a decent amount of wild fermented chards out there and even a few reds. Who knew?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bladder Busters at a Bar??

So the other day in school, where I am the “old” one, I was asking the other students if they’ve ever been to a bar that does Bladder Busters. Well, in truth, when I began the question, I couldn’t remember for the life of me what it was called so instead I described it as “you know, you go into a bar, maybe you pay a small cover, maybe you don’t, depends if the bar is a hole in the wall or not and then everybody gets to drink beer for a penny until someone pees.”

They looked at me as if I just asked them if they’ve ever been unicorn riding. Evidently its just an Arizona State thing. Of course now that I remember the name I’ve been asking other people I know and nope, no one has heard of it, except Terry who still has never participated but heard of it on a TV show. (he thinks King the Hill, but I can’t seem to find anything in an episode guide) But on my searching, I ran across a messageboard that talked about seeing one in a Tacoma Washington bar.

So maybe it’s a west coast thing?

Monday, August 27, 2007

An OAKED Sauvignon Blanc??

Last night I tried something I’ve never had before- an OAKED sauvignon blanc. (2004 Lobster Bay Sauv Blanc) Now, typically I don’t like sauvignon blancs. Not a big fan of grassy, tropical, or grapefruit in my wine, which are some of major characteristics of sauv blanc, particularly of the Marlborough region. There are some White Bordeaux’s I like, where the blended Semillon helps balance out the acid. Well, I got this through my wine club and they include some info about it…and a portion of it is aged in French oak for 3 months. Sure, that’s not a lot of oak and not for a long time AND its French oak, which doesn’t impart as much flavor as American, but hell, it’s an oaked sauv blanc and I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

Well, it was good. Still a little tropical for me, but the oak balances out the grassy and acid nicely. Its certainly not "oakey" and I doubt many could tell there was any oak, except for the nice balance. Its $20, so I probably won’t get it again, as I have other wines I like more for $20, but if I see it for $15 I’ll buy it again. I would recommend it for sauv blanc fans who don't like the heavy grass (such as the 06 Kim Crawford).

Garfield…actually funny?

I have the comic Garfield, among others, on my home page, as I used to, and occasionally still do, find it humorous. His cynicism is funny to me, plus I’m a cat person and I like to think my cats have as much personality as Garfield. By the way, to those who have been out of the Garfield Loop-Jon finally is dating the vet. Yep, 15 years in the making or whatever. Anyway, today’s, which has nothing to do with the vet, made me spit my coffee out.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wedding Wine Tasting Part 1

Since we will be fortunate enough to be able to bring our own alcohol to the reception, we feel obligated that the wine should be good. Or at least good in comparison. Here's the plan:
-Two reds and one white.
-$10-ish bottles
-Something that will be generally likable to both those who have good taste and are novel wine drinkers.

Tentatively have decided on a merlot (cheap cabs are just too harsh) and a pinot or other medium bodied wine. Top contender for the medium bodied is the Hayman & Hill Pinot Noir. So, a few days ago we had Wedding Wine Tasting Part 1- reds. We tried:

Ravenswood Merlot-actually pretty good. Easy to drink straight out of the bottle, a little bit of complexity.

Concannon Merlot-now we really like this chardonnay (its buttery) and we had the pinot not too long and it was also pretty decent. The merlot…well, not to much. Not horrible, but not good enough compared to the other two.

Marquee GSM-very jammy. Good, might be a contender instead of the Hayman & Hill Pinot but not different enough to be a separate choice from the pinot.

Big 8 Cellars Merlot-right out of the bottle its pretty harsh. Tastes like a young cheap red. But, give it just10 minutes in the bottle (not even in a decanter) and it opens up really nicely into a slightly tannic, but well rounded merlot. Top contender, because of the mystery of the wine-no one will have heard of it plus it’s a bit fuller bodied than the Ravenswood and thus would be a good choice for those who want a big red.

We’ll probably try a few more, and we’ll also try some whites. The whites in mind are the Shoofly Buzz Cut and Pine Ridge Viogner/Chenin Blanc. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The great temperature debate

With the weather being as warm as it is, I have noticed an increase in the discussion of wine and temperature, both serving and storing temperature. There are many sources of information on this topic but the majority agree on reds: store between 55-65, serve at 58-68. Where you fall in that range is personal preference.

Wednesday night we had some red wine that was room temp. Now, the vast majority of restaurants serve red wine at room temp, but we brought in this wine and paid the corkage fee. It was room temp because of travel time-and the fact that outside it was 100+ degrees. Although it could’ve been a few degrees colder, it was fine and actually better than it would’ve been if it was served at 55.

A concern about room temp during the summer is that rooms are usually hotter. I mean, in the winter we keep our house at 72-ish but in the summer its closer to 78. 78 is pretty far away from ideal temp-its almost warm.

On to whites and rose’s. Typically rose’s are served colder than fuller bodied whites, like Chardonnay. However, last night we had some rose’s that were served too cold and thus needed to be warmed up using our hands. A recent entry of my wine calendar says that sparkling is best served colder than fridge temp-they need to be ice bucket cold.

Either way, it seems like I’m always messing with the temp of wines lately and I’m really caring about it more than usual. Our wine fridge doesn’t have any moving parts, some special way of refrigeration that doesn’t vibrate, thus only keeps the wine a max of 25-30 degrees cooler than the air around it. Which with a poor air circulation set up in the kitchen, the fridges are in the hottest corner. A downside, yes, as in the summer the wines are around 65. Which means we have to cool down the whites for about 15 minutes and over the weekend, we even put the red in the fridge for about 5 minutes.

The good news with all this messing with the temps is that I’ve figured out what MY ideal serving temp is. Reds-58-62. Whites and dry rose’s: 48-50 Fruitier wines: 45-48 and I guess 40 for sparkling, although I don’t know what “ice bucket cold” is. When we buy another more expensive wine fridge where we don’t have to decide on vibration vs ideal temp, I’ll set storage at about 2-3 degrees cooler than that. But that’s at least a few years away, so I’ll have to deal with cooling my whites for 15 minutes and maybe my reds for 5 during the summer months.

Either way, I’ll be glad when summer is gone – it seems like the variation in wine temperature tastes is smaller and less of a debate in the winter.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What? A smoke free casino? How lovely!!

I like gambling. In fact, I love playing Roulette and have started to learn to play Craps. I have some methods in place to keep it from becoming a problem-such as never taking my ATM card in with me and once I get “up” to a certain amount (usually double my money) I allow myself to continue to play until 3 losing spins/rolls/hands whatever. This way I don’t lose it all. What I don’t love about the casinos is that I feel the need to take a shower right when I get home because I smell like a lit cigarette.

Well, Illinois recently passed a public smoking ban which appears to include casinos. How progressive!! There is currently, of course, a bill in the process to allow casinos within 10 miles from a neighboring state that allows public smoking (such as the Casino Queen) to be exempt from the law. Not sure of the fate of that. Evidently people think the smoking ban will hurt the casino industry.

Some thoughts on this:

Those poor casinos-god forbid they make less money. I mean really, evidently the casino industry brings billions of dollars of revenue into the state of Missouri and its supposed to help education-yet MO has what, the 17th WORST quality of education in the country? Yeah, that means they are making bunches of money and not giving it back.

Am I the only person who’s excited about a smoke free casino??? Sure, the old people who play the penny slots might smoke a carton a day, but I swear I’ve seen people not smoking at casinos. Smoke free gamblers DO EXIST and gosh, maybe the thought of going to the casino and not coming home smelling like an ashtray appeals to people. Maybe so much that they might drive to the Casino Queen versus Ameristar to gamble in a smoke free environment. What a novel idea!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The ultimate mattress pad.........

Not sure if other couples have the same problem we have, (doesn’t that sound ominous) but I’m much warmer than Terry is. It’s something he loves in the winter and hates in the summer. Either way, I’m always warm enough to sleep with a foot out from underneath the covers so when I saw this I was very excited, if only we had more disposable income. It keeps your bed cool / warm and they offer dual temps too!!!! I can’t even imagine….

Friday, August 10, 2007

25% Alc Zin

We recently had quite a few yummy wines. One was a 2000 Spencer Roloson Zinfandel, the oldest zin I've ever had. Wow. It was....strong. Now, the bottle said 15.5%, but based on the smell and how we felt afterwards, we're thinking it must've done some serious fermentation in the bottle because we went from lightly buzzed to very buzzed with just a glass. We joked that it was a 25% alc Zin, but we're guessing more like 17%. Here's a label-not of the actual wine we had, but of their current release Zin. Very small production-they only made 125 cases of their current Zin release. I got it from one of my wine clubs.
Even though we felt the effects, it didn't taste that unbalanced, just a smidge hot. We decanted it- a must do because there was a ton of sediment and gave it an hour in the decanter. But it was great - almost the nose of a port, with raisins and chocolate taste. Terry even liked it and he doesn't usually like zin because "it tastes like heartburn". Not this one- in a blind tasting I'd think it was a well aged cab because it lacked the spicyness of a zin. It was really good and if I ever see it out I'll buy it and in fact, we'll be trying more higher-end Zin as well in hopes of finding another.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Grass is Ass

Man, I don't know came up with "grassy" is a good adjective for wine but I will have to disagree. Over the weekend I had the 2006 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. I’ve had the 2005 before, and while in general I’m not a fan of sauv blancs, it was ok. Tolerable. I would pour myself another glass or two. But the 2006- wow. It is like drinking liquid grass. Really, while drinking this wine I recalled eating grass when I was younger, it was that similar. Grassy isn’t the only reason, nor it usually the main reason I don’t like sauvignon blancs, but it is for this one.

If you’re unfamiliar with what “grassy” tastes like, try the 2006 Kim Crawford Sauv Blanc. You will then forever be able to identify grass in a wine.

Barry Bonds - 756

Ok, he hit it. Barry Bonds hit his 756th career home run. While I have somewhat mixed feelings about it, I will say I’m glad its over and done.

For those of you who don’t follow baseball, Barry Bonds is a pretty damn good baseball player, even if you don’t count the whole “home run thing”. He’s been in 14 all star games, has received 8 golden glove awards, and has been selected MVP 7 times, (more than anyone else- 2nd place is 3 times which Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Stan Musial, among others, all have been given the award only 3 times). He also holds the single season home run record (73) in addition to, as of August 7th, 2007, the all time home run record (756). Overall, a very talented ball player, both defensively and offensively.

Oh, and he’s accused of knowingly using performance enhancing drugs.

Oh, and so is nearly all of baseball.

No, I don’t want to debate if he used steroids or performance enhancing drugs or if he knew about it. I think nearly everyone in baseball took some level of performance enhancing drugs. Whether is was full on steroids or just stuff that made you recover from injuries faster, whatever- I think the bottom line is it was all over the game.

Really, admit that baseball was WAY TOO lax in testing so many baseball players took steroids. People talk like this is the only guy who took steroids and its “tainting” baseball. No, HUNDREDS of players took steroids and while it might be tainting the records, what can we do about it? Deny everyone who played in the 1990’s entrance into the fall of fame because they probably took steroids? I mean, really, the only players who are admitting it are sub-par players whose use of performance enhancing drugs (PED) didn’t do enough to for them to get them anywhere significant in the game. They were crappy players who became “OK” players. So what do they have to lose by telling everyone they took steroids? They aren’t damaging their chances of getting into the hall of fame-they’ll only get in with paid admission anyway.

By that rationale, if tons of players were on PED, doesn’t that make it an almost even playing field? I mean, there aren’t tons of players who are sitting on 756 home runs. There’s one. If the use of PED alone makes that much difference that he shouldn’t be allowed in the hall of fame, then gosh, why aren’t there tons of records being broken each and every year by all the players who used? If PEDs have that much power, then we should have many many many phenomenal players from the 90’s ‘Roid Days, but we don’t. So it doesn’t.

In my opinion, Barry Bonds is a hall of fame quality player anyway-look at the golden gloves, the MVP awards, the all star game appearances. Maybe it shouldn’t be the 756 home runs that gets him into the hall of fame-maybe without drugs he would’ve only hit 701, who knows? We can’t rewind time and if he’s smart, he’ll never admit anything. But the way I look at it, is IF he took drugs, then they made a great player phenomenal. And that’s something that you just can’t do with drugs. So to all the sub-par players, the writers who never played or were never any good, the ones who took the PED’s and it didn’t make them phenomenal, quit your bitching and be happy people go to games so you all have a fucking job.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Saran wrap quick fix mumbo jumbo

The latest "wine trick" to fix a bottle of corked wine by exposing it to Saran Wrap. Supposedly, Polyethylene absorbs TCA (the tainted chemical) like a sponge. Well, last night I had the unfortunate pleasure of giving it a test when I opened a bottle of chardonnay and discovered it was corked.
Well, I'm gonna have to call bullshit on this one. All the articles I've read said one square foot should do it, with 10 minutes and a repeat to be the top amount. We used at least 3 feet, 15 minutes, repeated it four times, including one 4 inch piece in our glasses, hoping a small scale would work. While it helped, at no point did the wine become anything resembling a good wine. In the end, it moved it from smelling like moldey apple juice soaked socks to just bad apple juice that was left out for a day in the kitchen. Still not drinkable and it met its fate with the drain.

Not sure at what point of corked wine this is a fix, but its not quite the magic cure-all we have heard of. Dissapointed me, that's for sure, but I'll try it again on reds.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Comment Grab Bag

Ok, lots to comment on.

Heat competitions
First off, what is with people finding ways to compete in the heat?? As noted in an earlier post, crazy people run though Death Valley in the summer. Well today, I saw a new level of craziness. A competition to sit in a 230 degree sauna.
Sure, you’re just sitting there, but your thighs and butt needs to be touching the seat. If you can take the heat for the longest you will be crowned the Sauna World Champion. Insane.

Wet toilet seats
Ok ladies, we have the cleaner restroom, but why can’t we manage to not pee on the seat? I swear in the past three months I can’t go into a public restroom, whether its at work, in a bar, or a porta- potty, 1 out of 3 toilets has pee on the seat. I don’t care if you hover, plop down on the seat, use toilet paper to cover it up, or use the little seat covers- all have a shot of getting the seat wet. Why can’t we just give it a little wipe so it doesn't look like our drunk boyfriends lost control of the hose on the seat??? I mean, really, lets look out for our fellow ladies and provide a dry seat to lay toilet paper or whatever on.

Minority Report-coming to a city near you
Here’s sort of a Minority Report-type story- there’s this guy in California who posts pictures of little girls, but not sexual pictures, just pictures, along with blog entries of his fantasies of what he would like to do to them.

Clearly, parents in the area are freaked out …but he hasn’t done anything yet. Well, today they got a temporary restraining order for the ENTIRE state of California- the perv can’t be within 10 yards of a minor.,0,5538435.story?coll=la-home-center

Clearly he’s on the path to action, so I commend the judge for ok’ing the restraining order and I think pedophiles and rapists are the lowest level of human on the earth and deserve sick, harsh, wrong things to be done to them.

But, lets think the long term implications here….if I talk about robbing a bank or some other crime, is that evidence of intent? I mean, how far are we from Minority Report??

Barry Bonds and home run 755
I have much to say about this, but when he breaks the record and hits his 756th, I’ll dedicate a whole post to it. For now, I’ll just note that he hit it over the weekend and that we have not heard the last of this, by far.

Auqafina = tap water
I’m not sure why this is big news. Am I the only person who realized some bottled water is called “drinking water” and some is “spring water”? Drinking water is the same stuff I drink at home out of my Pur filer…its tap water that’s been filtered. Well, maybe (hopefully) it goes through a more elaborate filtering process, but really, were people really clueless about the origin of this water? (ie the Missouri river?)