Category:Wine humor

“So simple, so cheap:” Home-made apple wine

Home-made apple wine: “A perfectly passable table wine.”

There are any number of reasons to love this video from BrewTube — the narrator’s English accent, the addition of oak chips to the fermenting apple juice, and his conclusion: “A perfectly passable table wine.” The bravest among you might want to try this and let me know about the passable part.

I post this for a couple of reasons. First, my El Centro class ended this week, and one of the highlights this year — as it is every year — is the anecdote about making wine from orange juice. I always start the first lecture with the orange juice story: If you want to make wine, take a bottle of orange juice, put it in the back of the refrigerator, and you’ll get wine in a couple of weeks.

The wine may not be very good, but it is wine since the sugar has been converted to alcohol. More importantly, it demonstrates that winemaking is more than just the technical stuff. Not a lot of terroir in fermented orange juice. There’s also the bit about the student who had been in prison, and had done this in his cell, but that’s a story for another day.

Second, because I once tried making wine at home, using grape juice and the method in this video. The less said, the better, other than to note I had to dump 64 ounces of moldy grape juice down the sink.

Back label wine descriptions: What the jumble and winespeak on the back label really means

Back label wine descriptionsBack label wine descriptions can be as confusing as anything written by wine critics

The recent post about wine critics and their almost indecipherable wine descriptions reminded me that they aren’t the only ones whose goal is confusion and obfuscation. We also have back label wine descriptions for that.

In fact, back label wine descriptions may be more annoying, since their job is to help sell the wine. Who wants to buy a wine where the back label promises something that isn’t there? I’m not the only one flustered by this; a marketing official for one of the largest wine companies in the world told me it bothers good marketers, too. But many of the biggest producers contract the back label writing to third parties, so they’re stuck with what they get.

The other annoying thing? Yes, many of the worst examples come from cheap wine, but many also come from wine costing as much as $25. And what does that say about the $25 wine?

The following are taken from actual back label wine descriptions, with my explanation of what they really mean:

• Silky mouth feel: “We’ve removed the acidity and tannins and added sugar to cover up anything remotely resembling either, just in case any is still in the wine.”

• Unusual fruits like lychee nut and guava: Most wine drinkers probably haven’t tasted those, so the description does two things – first, shows that even a $6 bottle of wine can be exotic. Second, that the wine is deep and complex, even when it only costs $6. So shut up and buy it already. But then there is the other side of the descriptor.

• An alluring hint. … : “The flavor isn’t actually there, but if we suggest it, you’ll probably taste it and think the wine is better than it is.”

• Robust, with intense, dark fruits: “We’ve added as much Mega Purple as humanly possible.”

• A mocha finish with lingering oak: Regular readers here know what that is without any help from me – scorching amounts of fake oak, and then even more. And maybe even a little bit more just to be on the safe side.

• Freshly picked peaches (or apricots or even red fruit like cherries): “You’re damn right it’s sweet. But we’re not going to say that, are we?”

• A long, stony finish: “We couldn’t get rid of that odd, bitter taste in the wine, and we didn’t want to add any more sugar. So we want you to think that the bitterness is a good thing.”

The not quite 2018 April Fool’s wine post

april fool's wine postWhy write an April Fool’s wine post this year when so much of the wine business already makes us laugh?

The Wine Curmudgeon didn’t write an April Fool’s wine post this year. For one thing, too many people believed last year’s post, that the Wine Spectator bought the blog. I’m not sure if that speaks to our post-modern media world, or merely highlights my brilliant writing. It’s probably more of the first, though I prefer to think it’s the latter.

For another, the wine world has become so weird that I don’t have to make anything up to make people laugh. Apothic’s coffee-flavored wine, anyone? Or zombie virtual reality wine labels? Or Amazon’s employee-less store – unless you want to buy wine? Or the high-end wine review website that charges its highest subscription fee not to consumers, but to members of the wine trade?

And this doesn’t take into account how Google brings visitors to the blog, which is about as surreal as it gets. I’m more or less the only professional wine writer who takes cheap wine seriously, but that doesn’t stop these Google-driven types from complaining that I don’t appreciate cheap wine. Or criticizing what one commenter called my “holier than thou” attitude. Which, of course, leads to an even more surreal question: If I don’t and if I am, what am I doing here?

So I hope you had an enjoyable April Fool’s Day yesterday. The links for previous April Fool’s wine posts areat the bottom of this post if you want a chuckle or two.

And remember – in a wine world where critically acclaimed, $25 wine can contain fake oak, a boost in color from something like Mega Purple, and tree sap, who needs to celebrate April 1 just once a year? Every day can be April Fool’s Day.

More April 1 wine news:
Wine Curmudgeon will sell blog to Wine Spectator
Big Wine to become one company
Wine Spectator: If you can’t buy it, we won’t review it
Supreme Court: Regulate wine writing through three-tier system

Why didn’t you say so? What those silly wine descriptions really mean

Silly wine descriptions

Look closely, and you can see the gentian and the buddleia.

Those silly wine descriptions weren’t really about wine, but Star Wars and Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Last week’s post about silly wine descriptions, courtesy of John Tilson at the Underground Wine Letter, elicited any number of comments – some of which I can actually reproduce here.

Tilson found three truly silly wine reviews, one of which included this line: “texturally silken, supremely elegant effort transparently and kaleidoscopically combines moss, wet stone, gentian, buddleia, coriander, pepper, piquant yet rich nut oils and a saline clam broth savor. …”

Apparently, I’m not the only one who thought it was a bit excessive. My email offered a variety of interpretations, and I followed those up with several other possible explanations:

• “Wasn’t Buddleia the hero of the Gentian Sector in the second Star Wars prequel?” asked Dave McIntyre, the Washington Post wine critic.

• Because I’m a Star Trek fan: Wasn’t saline clam broth savor something like gagh, one of the Klingon dishes that Riker enjoyed in The Next Generation episode, “A Matter of Honor”?

• Or perhaps it was this diner’s favorite nibble in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life?

• Women’s makeup similar to the $1,115 Guerlain Black Orchid, only made with moss, wet stone, coriander, pepper, and piquant yet rich nut oils, instead of the “sensoriality and efficacy” that is the “strength and power of the Black Orchid?”

• The texturally silken and kaleidoscopically weed-infused of plot of 1993’s “Dazed and Confused?”

• And, from the Italian Wine Guy, whose education was obviously much more classical: “ In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/ a stately pleasure dome decree:/ Where Alph, the sacred river, ran/ Through caverns measureless to man/ Down to a sunless sea of gentian, buddleia and moss. …”

The fourth do-it-yourself wine review

do it yourself

Drinky appreciates white wine with fresh stone fruit and citrus aromas and flavors.

How else to combat the foolishness in so many wine reviews? Hence, the fourth  do-it-yourself wine review.

The fourth do-it-yourself wine review gives you a chance to play wine snob, wine geek, and wine know it all, just like so many who do it professionally. Why deprive yourself of writing: “The strawberry, rhubarb, blueberry and cranberry flavors are juicy and fresh, with plenty of purity and oomph, offering a firm backbone. Dried herb, fresh earthy loam and spice notes linger, but the fruit continues to sing out on the finish.”

So write your own wine review, using the drop-down menus in this post. Just click the menu and choose your favorite line. Those of you who get the blog via email may have to go to the website — click here to do so.

And, as always, thanks to Al Yellon, since I stole the idea from him.

In the glass, this white wine:

I smelled the wine, and:

I tasted the wine, and:

All in all, I’d say the wine:

More do-it-yourself wine reviews:
The first do-it-yourself wine review
The second do-it-yourself wine review
The third do-it-yourself wine review

John Cleese puts wine snobs in their place

“I like big, in your face tannic reds, and that makes me a special, superior kind of person. Oh, please.”

The continuing increase in the world’s wine foolishness has been making the Wine Curmudgeon more than bit crazy these days. The news release about wine aged in bourbon barrels was close to the top of the list: “If you often find yourself indecisive about whether to opt for a bold glass of red or a neat pour of bourbon. …”

No, not really. Sometimes I want wine. Sometimes I want bourbon. Why would I want both at the same time?

And don’t even ask me what they want to do to our beloved $10 rose. I can’t even link to it. It’s too horrible.

Hence a visit with John Cleese, one of the funniest men in the world and particularly spot on about wine in his video, “Wine for the Confused.” To hear Cleese use the words rubbish, nonsense and wine snobbery in the same sentence, and in the voice that has been skewing pretension since Monty Python, is enough to make me want to type again. Or at least to plow through all of those news releases.

Video courtesy of RockBandito via YouTube.

More on John Cleese and wine:
The John Cleese/Fawlty Towers Guide to restaurant wine service
Follow-up: The John CleeseFawlty Towers Guide to restaurant wine service

Bic lighters, wine corks, and screwcaps

How quaint: Let’s use a lighter to push open a wine cork

Those of you holding out, who still think wine must have a cork closure, should watch the entire 1:46 of this video to be reminded that wine corks are 19th century technology.

Yes, it’s a neat party trick. But that’s what people used to say about wearing a lampshade, and we don’t do that anymore, do we? And, sadly, I have encountered more than one bottle over the years where the cork was pushed up like that and no one took a lighter to it. That’s called sitting in a hot warehouse.

A wine closure, like any other food seal, should be easy to use and safe for both the product and the consumer. None of which, as the brave fellow here demonstrates, applies to corks. Only wine would make the product so complicated that it discourages people from buying it – and let’s not forget that the gadget used to open the wine can cost more than the wine itself.

In other words, when’s the last time you needed a corkscrew to open a bottle of ketchup?

Video courtesy of Hacker 007 via Youtube, using a Creative Commons license