Champagne, Sparkling Wine & Lady Beer – A Love Story

This is the final installment of my wine education trilogy at Blogdramedy. It is a brain dump from my illustrious visit to Champagne, France. Ahhhhh, memories, I hope you enjoy the tiny bubbles of knowlege as much as I did acquiring them. This is a trip one must make at least once in your life, if only to be the envy of all the mothers at your son’s fancy pants nursery school – ha. ha. ha. ha. In all seriousness, it was an incredible trip and one that taught me the true passion, artistry, tradition, and science that makes one of the most celebrated spirits what it has been for centuries. To this day, I marvel at how jealously guarded the brand “Champagne” has been by the region and how incredibly smart of them to be such jerks about it – seriously – they are fully entitled to the name and what it represents. Cross the line and you will be served something other than bubbles. Voila!

It was truly an expensive honor to have the credit card maxxing opportunity to enjoy what this region has to offer. I am now well prepared to get back to the business of reviewing $10+under wines people – for a long, long, long, long time! Bloody hell.
Stay curious,
The Comtesse du Cheapeaux

A friend in need needs this. Naked Grape Cab $7.99 –

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 Naked Grape Cab $7.99
CVS/pharmacy
The bouquet smells like leather, blackberries. The first sip is dark fruit, berries, fig – like it really wants to be a cab but falls just short of the complexity or richness. Not harsh or tannic – weak, sweet, quickly made – easy to drink and grape juicy. Naked grape essentially says what it is. I was drinking this with a woman going through a bitter divorce, and a friend in need is a friend who needs wine – Naked and I were happy to be there for her of course. Other than that, c’est toute!
Rated drinkable, especially when listening to heart breaking stories about an ex in progress and who would get custody of the money.
Stay curious!
loie

Did someone mention value?

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“The world is full of value wines and valuable wines, but the two couldn’t be more disparate.  Unfortunately, value wines get served at events, especially weddings, when you should be serving valuable wines.  So what separates the two?” — the Sybarite

The preceding quote from last month’s Wine Writing Challenge winner, The Sybarite, inspired me to hop on the keyboard and present my hypothesis on the wine value proposition. My quest for the finest of cheap wines has been particularly menacing due to my current domicile in a highly regarded Californina AVA. Bringing a cheap bottle of wine to a soirée can elevate tensions akin to the unrest of an Arab Spring. Flashing a cheap bottle at a more menacing event, like a farmer’s market, can be highly precarious as the picnic snob set are infamous for carrying a concealed corkscrew of restaurateur quality. 

Corkscrew

Although I have been ostracized, unfollowed and unfriended, I wear the stigma with pride. Regardless of whose nose I offend or palate I maim, I am resolute in my journey of finding the rarest, most valuable and coveted of all the Earth’s vintages: an excellent wine for under $10.

A bit of courage, some know-how and plenty of luck…

Admittedly, my chosen profession as a reviewer of cheap wine is a blight to my family. As aforementioned, we live amongst a populace of highly educated winos and plentiful sources of excellent wines. My mission is seen as fanatic and eccentric. My family demands to remain anonymous. There are no friendships made in the cheap wine tasting cellar. The tone is austere and so deprived of conviviality it has been referred to as a catacomb. The brave few will join me in a toast, but most, run screaming to their computers to take me off their E-vite guest list.

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When I do find that beautiful bottle of wine that receives countless compliments and cost less than a Frappuccino, I am suddenly genius, popular and reintroduced to polite society. Why? Because there is a direct correlation to peer perceptions of intelligence and expertise when one finds something valuable for little to no cost. This phenomenon is akin to finding gold galleons in a shipwreck or a Dali in grandma’s attic. When you can share a wine discovery that is remarkably affordable, of exceptional quality, and is wholeheartedly enjoyable, you have proven your value to society. 

Serendipity strikes…

As I was pondering how to substantiate my wine value proposition, serendipitously today, Gary Vaynerchuk tweeted a link to a short video about how to bring people value. His value framework defines utility, escapism and entertainment as the key principles. So I applied them. Cheap wine offers utility through accessible everyday price points. Check. Escapism through imbibing. Check. Entertainment through the hunt. Check.

These three themes are exalted in every social media channel known via posts about drinking wine, why we drink wine and the after effects of drinking wine. With confidence I presume the hoi polloi is not hitting “like,” “share,” and “RT” because these memes illustrate the humor in first growth wines from Bordeaux. I rest my case, but wait; indulge me for one moment further.

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Sir Jeff Siegel, knighted for his significant contributions to the commonwealth of winos and author of The Wine Curmudgeon’s Guide to Cheap Wines (must see Ten Dollar Haul of Fame at winecrumudgeon.com) states that “…anybody can go spend a lot of money and find a great bottle of wine, but how come nobody had ever thought of finding a great bottle of wine for not a lot of money? You find that in every other consumer good…the wine business had never really done that.” Exactamente!

{ the below image has had thousands of views, likes and RT. Ok?}

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Millennials and the democratization of wine after the great recession…

And thus blossomed the likes of Sir Jeff and The Reverse Wine Snob who pioneered the genre through their pragmatism and humor which started the movement for the democratization of wine for the masses and not just the classes. They set the stage for the next generation of wine aficionados who came into legal drinking age post apocalyptic economic downturn, aka the Great Recession. These winos have different expectations. They are not collectors, they are collaborators. They want to get nerdy about wine and share their knowledge. They drink what they like and what is aplenty. They can accept that wines under $10 can be exceptional. How can I stand behind this declaration? Mathematics and the new economy, perhaps?

Linda Murphy, of winereviewonline.com, puts it best in her post titled Cheap Thrills “…the fact that many rewarding and interesting wines can still be found for less than $15, and more importantly, for less than $10, which is approximately the price of a six-pack of craft beer.” Quite pithy.

 Love, hate and loathing at the bottom two shelves…

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The wilderness starts at the bottom shelf of the wine department in any supermarket. Never mind the dust bunnies, we are seeking a wine so delectable, unexpected and rare, we will be kissing a few Jackalopes and Chupacabras before we ride the Unicorn. Akin to mining diamonds or spotting the rarest of birds in their habitat, exceptional value wines can appear unexpectedly. As I machete through the jungle of cutesy labels, clever names and “on sale” signs, this experience can be discouraging and often one limited on time, especially if your ride is in the parking lot honking while the engine is running. 

I rarely have the pleasure of finding wines at the $10 and under price point enjoyable. I believe the bar is so low on inexpensive wines that there is a bias. If you paid very little for a wine and it is palatable, it’s “good.” Not a chance here. I rarely post great reviews and I am often disappointed. However, what keeps me motivated is the thought of a misguided wine buyer with enough means but not enough confidence being seduced by a price and a pretty label. When disappointed by their selection and the missed opportunity to drink good wine, I feel the angst, hence those bottom 2 shelves are my hunting grounds.

Value proposition demystified…

“It’s not enough that a wine is cheap (or expensive, for that matter). Does it offer more value than it costs?” — the winecurmudgeon.com

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It’s easy to spend countless amounts of money on good wine. A $100 wine is not necessarily 10 times better than a $10 wine. Albeit, if you drank 10 wines under $10 and one of those wines was phenomenal, what would that be worth to you? Is the thrill of the hunt as valuable as the find? Whatever the effort it takes to seek an excellent wine at an unbeatable price, when you make that discovery and share it with the world, the value is now exponential. 

I remain curious.

loie

 

  

 

Wine Journaling – something to do w/used corks – that’s NOT an eyesore!

Winejournaling

 

So many corks – so little time to craft creepy gifs for your wino buddies like hot glue gunned “cork boards” – which only fill the basement or provide luxury housing to spiders in the garage. Well this idea is actually useful in a sentimental way and so easy – just keep the Sharpie handy.

I will actually try this to add value and virtue for keeping those dust collectors around. I admit – I save every sparkling wine/champagne cork I ever opened – even the cheap ones from the lesser bottles. Looking at that vintage ice bucket on my mantle  fill up with spent corks makes me feel happy and reminds me of those cherished moments when the bubbly was flowing for some special occasion, like when I toiled over laundry.

Just hide them when the authorities drop in for tea – but then again – who’s counting anything but the goodtimes.

 

Stay curious!

loie

Credit where credit is due: Idea found on eventremembered.com

 

Wino Redefined!

 

PGHM

I have decided to amend the definition of “wino.” I know this is a frivolous cause and one that most haughty, intelligent types would consider “silly” “purposeless” or as my father would say, “useless as tits on a boar” – which was a saying I always found odd and disturbing even as a small child before I even knew what a tit or a boar was – he’s a depression era baby and talk about obscure and outmoded terminology – have you sat on a “davenport” lately? But I digress. Back to our subject matter.

I have decided to redefine wino because the definition I retrieved when Googled (or as my mother says goo-goo’d – she is Asian ESL- I had to share that because I think it’s funny) is WRONG for many reasons, well 3 to be precise.

1. “Excessive amounts,” I mean really, that is totally relative and unmeasurable. I think excessive is an over charged, over used, over emphasized, over glamorized hyperbolic slur – especially in reference to wine.

2. “…or other alcohol.” Let’s get technical here – wine is not vodka, bourbon, Scotch, or pre-made margaritas in a plastic jug. How can a word derivative of “wine” now be within the same classification of other spirits? This is completely erroneous. Being classified with “other alcolhol”  gets under my skin as the inference is completely encroaching on our oenophilic heritage and unique cultural identity – is every Asian Chinese? Are all Latinos Mexican? Call a Cuban a Mexican and see what happens. Come on. This is very un-American and eerily Communistic.

3. Homeless? Homeless? Really now. I have actually never met a homeless wino. I have met homeless alcoholics, drug addicts, veterans, the mentally ill who are really really homeless. I have met the gentrified-challenged homeless (yes that is a direct hit on the tech industry and the eradication of affordable housing in SF and other places like “Silicon Beach” – raaaa-ther! It was so much more affordable when it was a gangland) I have met runaways and those displaced by economic downturn. Ha! Not a wino in the bunch. I must say I am not diminishing the importance of addressing homelessness and quite frankly, I am militant about eradicating it. There should not be one person in this country without sufficient shelter and support to enable a productive and healthy life with hope for the future….I’m getting on a soap box when I should be on the wine barrel – so I must now return to the original context of this topic.

This is about correct vernacular and the evolution of the meaning in the English language. I believe “wino” in the Anno Domini common era conotes a positive, celebratory community of like minded bon vivants who are resourceful in their pursuit of enjoying wine with reasonable frequency as to not upset their means for acquiring wine.

Raise a glass for the cause you winos and stand up for what is now a new and improved definition of winohood. No more blocking doorways in the Tenderloin. No more refusal of payment with change at 7-11. No more sneers from the cork sniffers. Tear off those paper bags and drink proudly, loudly, responsibly and with fiscal prudence! I’m still saving for those sandals.

Stay curious!

loie

 

 

A little Olé with a PBR Chaser. $4.59

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Cruz Garcia Reál Sangria, Spain

Reál Sangria – Party Ideas

Top 5 Bottled San Grias

I actually don’t think this is a reál wine? If anyone knows what this really is – please comment. All I can say – it looks like it tastes. Seriously, what is this?!? One brave taster said it was merely fortified grape-juice with an odd citrus flavoring. It is fairly light and you should drink it as cold as possible. Try it on ice with a slice of orange or lemon – I enjoyed it with a PBR chaser. With a burger and some beer, this may be a stop on your tour gastronomique.

Their site is FABULOUS – check it out real-sangria.com– you can find out tips and tricks to throwing a 70’s disco party and some infamous food pairing suggestions with “grilled meats.” There are also some recipes for Sangria! I commend them for their site design, very engaging and they are the professed “#1 Imported Sangria from Spain.” Someone, somewhere in the US of A is drinking this with reckless abandon. It also opened my eyes to the bottled Sangria market, which I presume it is an acquired taste my buds have yet to blossom.

Stay curious – I guess.

loie