Category:Wine Curmudgeon

Regional wine: The Rodney Dangerfield of the business

Wine I’m in Illinois, so that means I’m going to try and buy some Illinois wine. It’s one of those things that the Wine Curmudgeon does. So I go to one high-end grocery store in a high-end suburb. Nope, no Illinois wine (and the guy behind the counter is even a little surly about it, so the Wine Curmudgeon gives him the evil eye). I got to another high-end grocery store in another high-end suburb. Nope, no Illinois wine.

Is Illinois wine any good? I don’t know. I can’t find any to buy so I can taste it.

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Wine scores: Still more work to do

wine scores

At a wine function the other day, I met two intelligent, well-read wine drinkers. This was a big-deal tasting, and they wouldn ?t have been invited unless they knew what they were doing. I introduced myself, and I told them what I did for a living. One of the duo asked me how I scored wine. I told her that I didn ?t use scores. She was quite surprised. How do you evaluate wine if you don ?t use scores? she asked.

It was another Wine Curmudgeon moment.

Regular visitors here know how I feel about scores. And if you ?re here for the first time, you can probably guess. I don ?t like them.

At best, wine scores are sloppy, an excuse for discussing what the wine tastes like and what it pairs with. At their worst, scores are dishonest. No one is ever going to give a $100 wine an 88, and no $10 wine will ever get a 95. Even the most horrible wines rarely score worse than 80, which is supposed to be the cutoff between good and average.

And none of this takes into account individual taste, what mood the person doing the scoring was in that day, or any of a dozen other variables like experience and wine knowledge. My scoring (if I did it) is going to be different from yours which is going to be different from your next door neighbor. So why should my wine scores count more than yours? You ?re going to be drinking the wine, after all.

I tried to explain this to the person at the tasting, and I think I made some headway. She nodded in agreement when I said my goal was to give the reader enough information to make up his or her own mind. I ?m the conduit, I said, not the final arbiter. Her husband seemed to be even more favorably impressed, and I may even had made a convert.

One down, millions more to go.

A footnote: One of the wines served at this event was a 100-pointer (which I ?ll write more about later). I glanced at my companions when we found out what it was, and they both shook their heads. Neither could believe it was perfect.

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Asus Eee PC 900: Oh, baby

image The best laptop that the Wine Curmudgeon ever used was a TRS-80 model 100, a Radio Shack product that is usually regarded as the world ?s first laptop. It was awesome ? a little more than three pounds, a 300-baud modem, and a faux leather case. In the 1980s, I lugged it to football games, bike races, and city council meetings, where I would write the story, hook the modem up to a phone jack, and send it to the paper by hitting a row of buttons located just above the keyboard.

I loved that machine, which was affectionately known as a Trash 80. It belonged to the late and lamented Dallas Times Herald, and I still have the instructions for using it (written by the great Kevin Edwards, a sportswriter turned cyber type who went on to fame and fortune at the Washington Post).

Since then, I have owned a couple of laptops, none of which I much cared for. In fact, I haven ?t had one for almost a decade. They were too heavy, too slow, too expensive and too irritating. I made do with an early handheld, an HP Jornada 720, which had a downsized QWERTY keyboard and synced with my desktop (though the modem never really worked). 2015 update: Since the Asus 900, I have owned two other Asus laptops, each wonderful.

But all that has changed.

That ?s because I am the proud owner of an Asus Eee PC 900. It weighs 2.2 pounds, has wi-fi, and came with a faux leather case. It has all the advantages of the Trash 80, with none of the disadvantages of today ?s software-bloated, overweight laptops. It was cheap ? about one-third to one-half the price of a reasonably-configured laptop. It ?s efficient, running on Linux instead of Windows. And it ?s quick, taking just 30 seconds to boot up (I just timed it.)

Are there difficulties with it? Certainly. The keyboard isn ?t full size, and support is non-existent. It came with a bunch of software that I can ?t make heads or tails out of (anyone know anything about something called mediaU?). The battery isn ?t what it could be, and I still can ?t get it to read an SD card from the appropriate slot.

And Linux, for all of its stability, is terrifyingly DOS-like. If you want to add more than basic software updates, command line typing is involved. (Children, ask your parents about DOS, and watch the sweat form on their brows.)

None of which I especially care about. It only weighs 2.2 pounds, I don ?t have to hit control-alt-delete. My $5 USB mouse works perfectly. And did I mention that the Asus comes with three USB ports and an ethenet connection?

About the only thing missing is a $10 bottle of wine.

Wine competitions: A tough way to make living

That’s usually one of the snickers I get when I tell people I judge competitions —  along with, “Boy,  I wish I could do that” and similar bits of cleverness.

And the Wine Curmudgeon will be the first to admit that judging a competition is not as difficult as mining coal or working at Burger King (my first job, which broke me of the desire to ever have a real job). But it is work.

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A great, great look

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Chicago Cubs announcers Len Kasper (left) and Bob Brenley, giving the Wine Curmudgeon a run for his sartorial money. That’s a helluva brown pinstripe that Kasper is wearing. The occasion? The Cubs and WGN, which broadcasts the team’s games, held a 1948 throwback game on Thursday to celebrate the station’s 60 years of showing Cubs’ games.

And why is this post on a wine blog? Because the Wine Curmudgeon has two great weaknesses: white Burgundy and the Cubs. (Note to the faint of heart: The link includes a reference to former manager Lee Elia’s X-rated tirade against Cubs fans.)

Plus, I’m a sucker for fedoras.

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Bidding adieu to the Cordon Bleu

Cordon Bleu Friday was my final day teaching the introductory wine class at Dallas’ Cordon Bleu. As much as I enjoyed it — and I enjoyed it very much — the class was more work than I had time for. For one thing, it cut back on the Wine Curmudgeon’s wine drinking.

I’m going to write a longer piece about my experiences (that’s a hint to any magazine editors reading this who need a clever, well-written, thoughtful article), but I do want to offer these observations:

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