Sunday, August 15, 2010

Beer or wine?

While some wines are delicious, some wines are certainly not worth the price that is asked for them. Some wines are also subject to spoilage. In fact, wines peak and are most delicious at the apex of the process of going from a young wine to vinegar. The snobbery of wine appreciation is to be able to determine that peak.

When we bought a business from a friend, part of closing the deal included a 1961 bottle of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild wine. The man was quite a fan of good wines, and prided himself on having a very refined pallet. I myself have never really liked “Big Red Wines”, but I was anxious to close the business deal that we were in the middle of. The Lafite was the closer, so I guess in this particular instance, the wine was well worth it’s price. Modesty prohibits me from disclosing that price, but the same bottle of wine today would cost $1,299.00. Why don’t they just put the price at $1,299.99? Is there such a thing as “price snobbery” also? Most likely if they were to say the price was $1,300.00 people would say, “That’s too much for a bottle of wine” and walk away, but $1,299.00 “That sounds reasonable, I’ll take it!”

The following is a review on a bottle of 1982 Lafite ($4,449.98) It seems like making excuses to pay too much money for a wine to me.

Expert Reviews
Rated: 95+ by Stephen Tanzer, Jul/Aug '02
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Good full, deep red. Slightly high-toned, highly nuanced nose of currant, roasted meat, cedar, marzipan, smoke and tobacco. Supple on entry, then firmed by sound acids. Still quite unevolved but seems distinctly less deep than the bottle of '59 I tasted alongside it. A rather muscular style of Lafite, finishing with big, tongue-dusting tannins. Drink 2005 through 2030. 93. My second bottle showed a darker red-ruby color; higher-pitched aromas of redcurrant, cedar, orange peel and coconut; a bright, very tight palate impression, with strong acidity contributing to the impression of steely spine; and a very subtle and very long, firmly tannic finish. This bottle seemed even less evolved than the first sample.

However, The review on the ‘61 Lafite sounds more appropriate, it sounds more like my review of the wine.

As for drinking this wine, to be honest, words can never do it justice. Let's just say that it was enjoyed beyond anything else!

It was my first experience at drinking a fine French Bordeaux wine. I recall being surprised to notice that it smelled like a smoky oak, it was a very rich and deep burgundy red, also very clear like deep red glass. It was not too astringent, and not sweet. It was the kind of wine that I could drink all day. But, hey…wait a minute. I don’t drink that much, and besides, I couldn’t afford to drink that kind of wine all day.

One of the best wines that I ever tasted was in Interlaken Switzerland. The weather was frosty, but my wife and I had a hotel room which had a balcony right over the main hotel entrance, with a view of the most majestic mountains that I will ever see. We went across the street to a little store. We bought some fresh baked breads, some cheese, several salami type dry sausages, and some apples. On our way out, just as an afterthought, we decided to get a cheap bottle of wine. We paid $7.00 American for the wine. It was a French Bordeaux wine. We put on our heavy coats and went out on the balcony to make ourselves dinner out of the bag. We opened the wine and poured a couple of glasses full. I took a drink of mine, I noticed right off that it tasted almost identical to the Chateau Lafite that we had at the Eureka Inn. I didn’t say anything, thinking that I wanted to get my wife’s reaction first. She did the same thing, she took a sip and said “Wow, did you taste the wine?” we both agreed that it was every bit as good as the expensive wine. Needles to say, we dined in exquisite pleasure that night. It is strange how life gives you little surprises sometimes.

The most embarrassing moments of my life are when somebody in our group gets a little too tipsy and decides that the $200.00 bottle of wine is “over the hill and sends it back”. I could crawl under the frickin’ table. I don’t like public attention like that. I’m the kind of a person that will clean up a messy restroom before I leave it, on the off chance that somebody will think that I made the mess. Have you ever done that?

As I have aged, I’ve decided that I really don’t care what other people think. When My wife and I go out to dinner I just order a beer, like Budweiser draft, or Miller Genuine draft. I don’t like bitter beers, or the new foofoo microbrewery beers that taste like burned chrysanthemums. A glass of draft goes as well with a fillet as the most expensive wine. I’m not very good at being a wine snob, so I’m really quite happy drinking something that hits the spot, doesn’t cost a frickin’ fortune and tastes good.

Another good thing, I've never had to suffer the embarrassment of sending back a bad beer!

21 comments:

ultradave said...

Yeah, I do the 'clean the bathroom' thing on airplanes a lot. Especically since there is almost always a line for it and you inevitably have to look the next person straight in the face as you exit.

I'll also agree, sometimes a good draft beer is better than any 20 dollar belgian foo-foo beer :)

Ross Sherburn said...

One time when i was in the Hospital,Budweiser Corp. sent me a getwell card........

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross
That's funny!
I had a friend (god rest his soul) who was chosen as Garberville's citizen of the year. Budweiser actually did send printed signs and banners like they do for the rodeos that they sponsor.
He was quite famous for demanding a budweiser when other "better" beers were available.

Ekovox said...

Ah, how I long for the flavor of a good Buckhorn. (RIP)

The best wine I ever had came during a Christmas dinner party for the Myrtlewood Lounge bar anbd entertainment staff in 1987 at Dennis & Gheri's Myrtletownhouse in Eureka. Joe Waters, the bartender at the Myrtlewood, was also a liquor distributor during the day. During a typical business transaction with a California wine dealer, he ordered a case of ordinary Cabernet Souvein-whatchama-callit. Well, they sent him two cases. One case of ordinary Sebastiani Cab and by mistake...a case of one of the most expensive wines sold in California. Top Dollar stuff. Someone in the warehouse at the wine dealer accidentally placed the expensive wine in with the cheap wine and sent it to Eureka. Joe sat on the case waiting for someone, somewhere to claim it. When over a year went by, he decided..."Oh What the Hell!" He opened up the bottles on rare occasions, gave some away and sold some to those who might be able to afford it. That Christmas year was one of the years he decided to open it for the dinner party. Now, let me tell you, wine to me, is a a nice table decoration, but doesn't really tickle my innards. But, this wine, this incredibly expensive wine from somewhere heavenly was like drinking liquid platinum. The palate sensation, the whole wine snob oenophile experience was one I will never forget.

Did I mention how I long for the flavor of a good Buckhorn?

olmaniver said...

finishing with big, tongue-dusting tannins Just readin' that makes me want to cleanse my pallette or gullet or whatever...
I got some hoity toity kin who receive lots of gratis fine wines, talk about 'em like they were fine buds, and gasp at my tendency to chug wine no matter the price. Not really an old Ripple habit, just don't like the taste that much... in wine,there is bitter and less bitter. So I bring my six dollar Portuguese Vino Verde to gatherings and ask for that because it is sort of wine cooler-like, and I don't feel like chugging it.
Is my sophistication showing?

olmaniver said...

oenophile! Great word Eko, now I have to look it up.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Knowing just enough about Greek mythology to get myself in trouble, I thought that you might be interested to know where the word "Oenophile" came from.

I know about the three Greek sisters, Oeno, Elias, and Spermo. Oneo was the Greek goddess of “oinos” (wine). She had the ability to turn anything into wine. She must have been a fun date! But, I digress, again, some more, thus the word Oenophile. Phile is greek for fan. Like in fan club.

Elias had the ability to turn anything into olive oil. She would also be handy to have around. As you know the Greeks bathed in oil. If you were a Greek you would come home from a hard day at the Forum, take a nice long soaky bath, then your wife would rub olive oil all over your body, then gently scrape it all off with a sharp knife, hairs and all. You really had to be careful who you married back then. Lorena Bobbit would not have been a good choice.

Spermo, Had the ability to turn everything into, you already guess it, darn it. She had the ability to turn everything into sperm It looses some of it’s excitement when you find that sperm is also the Greek word for seed. So, she could turn anything into wheat, or rye, or any other kind of seed. If you married her, you would always have something to eat.

I’m thinking that a polyamorous manage de quatro marriage with the three sisters would be ideal. That way you would have all of the wine that you could drink, wheat for bread, and oil for dipping.

Ah the sweet life!

kymk said...

I was going to acknowledge being a bathroom cleaner myself but when I read your last comment Ernie (after being primed by the other posters' words) I laughed so hard I spit cracker crumbs onto my keyboard.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine and I bought a bottle Chateau Lafite-Rothschilds 1984 Pauillac for $160 and I will say ALL of the $7 bottles of wine I have bought at Safeway tasted better. However I did use a wine glass with the Rothchilds and maybe that had something to do with it. Usually I open a bottle of wine, throw the cork away and use a 14 oz. water glass. If I have company I open two bottles of wine. It ain't bad after I get past the first glass full. Maybe that French wine would taste better if I went to Iterlaken Switzerland but I never have been past Idaho.
Dang, talk about uppity, why didn't you just order a six pack of Bud when you were there. I'm just pickin' on you Ernie so don't get riled.
I went to the Olympia Brewing Company one time and was told that Buckhorn was a top of the line premium beer. It was cheaper because it was never advertised. That was not the full truth though, while at the brewery I bought a Buckhorn t-shirt and I wore it all the time.

Oregon

olmanriver said...

Thanks for your edifying humor, was there an Ernos in Greek mythology?

suzy blah blah said...

She must have been a fun date!

I think someone turning something into wine symbolizes a presence within ... A presence which can see joy in even the most mundane situations. It's all in the way you look at it :)

Ernie Branscomb said...

Cousin Oregon.
That same bottle of Chateau Lafite-Rothschilds 1984 Pauillac would sell for $754.43 today. You should have saved it and sold it.

Cork? The wine that I buy comes with a screw-top, or in a baggy in a cardboard box. If I ever get a bad wine I just pour it in the soup. The gas to return it to the store costs more than the wine. Win, win.

Anonymous said...

My youngest daughter talked me into taking her to a winery in Cave Junction and the guy said that the screw top wines were the best because they resealed better than the corks. I never had to worry about resealing a bottle of wine in my life and told the guy that. He looked at kinda funny and said, "well some folks do"..

Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

This is the Hotel that we stayed in at Interlaken. Hotel Royal St. Georges They even had that funky piano music playing.

We had the room with the curved balcony in the center of the hotel, above the entrance.

The food is outstanding. However, NEVER order meat in Europe. They don't do well with steak. You have to go to Texas or Omaha to get a good steak. But the breads, cheeses, sausages, and desserts are to die for. You could literally eat yourself to death.

Robin Shelley said...

My pseudo-son-in-law, who owns the Chocolate Haus in Mendocino & is their only confectionaire, is as "snobby" about chocolate as some people are about wine. Unfortunately, I know nothing about either one but I do know what I like... and it ain't wine!

Ernie Branscomb said...

We're really into Greek today, "pseudo" is a greek word Meaning "pretending to be something it is not." I guess as long as he is putting up a good pretense it's okay.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Anybody with chocolate could easily steal my wife away. So I guess that marriage really doesn't mean that much anyway.

Anonymous said...

I might take issue Ernie with the only place to get a good steak is in Texas or Omaha. Like I mentioned before, I ain't been passed Idaho and I have eaten some good steak. I do want to say the best steak is home grown. The best Beef steak I ever ate was from Spyrock and Zenia.

Oregon

spyrock said...

sam simmerly was the son of joe simmerly and rachel drennan who were living in the cumberland gap area of pennsylvania when he met charlotte chandon and her family on their trip to california round 1849. the chandons were grocers and established the queen city market in what was called marysville. simmerly slough is where sam raised cattle that he sold through his wife's family store to the miners. in 1870, the simmerlys left the chandons and moved to east covelo near the trail going east through the mountains. they ran their cattle like everyone else did back in the open range days. sam's daughters married into some of the large ranch families in covelo like the haydons and john's wife laura's oldest sister was married to milo patton who ran a 5000 acre ranch for george white. it was said that a homesteader once traded a ranch for one of george white's steers. so no matter what you think of these people, they knew how to raise beef and they had some of the best feed anywhere. when they expanded the reservation and shut down the open range, the simmerelys moved to spyrock in the 1890s where they raised cattle until the sixties. my british grandfater's family raised herefords in england and he and his brothe brought over a huge bull named domino from england. my grandfather was a pioneer in irrigation and they used to irrigate off of shell rock creek and the mountains above stinson beach in marin county later on. so there was a century worth of experience raising beef up near spyrock for oregon to feast on. thanks for the compliment, i'll pass it on to the family on cousin penny's 70th birthday. mel cooks a mean tri tip. i think his timer is the number of budwiser cans he drinks.

Robin Shelley said...

The best beef I ever ate was raised by Brother & Dolly Pinches right on the floor of the Long Valley.

Anonymous said...

Spy: you'd better hurry and send the recipe. Wouldn't want you to miss my 70th, lol. My 1st daughter (as she insists being called) and son-in-law raise 100%natural grass fed no hormone/ antibiotic beef!!!! super great.. Selling nicely at the Good Food Store and Mariposa Market.

KYMK: I was just thinking about the seeds, olive oil an wine...when
you mentioned the bathroom cleaning,hummmm.

Suzy: it's a male thing, ha.

Ern: don't spoil the soup with a wine you won't drink.

Cousin