Tag Archives: wine advice

Silly wine advice: “I would pair this with a nice microwavable macaroni and cheese”

Sometimes, all we can do is laugh and be glad for silly wine advice

Hence, this fine effort from HelloGiggles on Youtube, which pretty much sums up what the rest of the world thinks about wine drinkers. Call it silly wine advice from the masses.

My other favorite part? The spitting when the woman finds out how much the wine costs. Which, come to think of it, also happens in the wine world — or at least it happens when I read the tasting notes and see what the wine costs. Do you think I can get my own show on the Food Network?

More about wine and humor:
Birthday card wine wisdom
Nine silly wine facts
Redd’s Wicked Apple: “Let’s make fun of wine”

Wine and food pairings 3: Bratwurst and sauerkraut

Wisconsin-style bratwurstThe Wine Curmudgeon pairs wine with some of his favorite recipes in this new, occasional feature. This edition: three wines with Wisconsin-style bratwurst and sauerkraut

There are bratwurst, and then there are local, butcher-shop brats prepared in the Wisconsin bratwurst style. That means brats poached in beer with onions, peppers, garlic, and spices. Yes, you can use grocery store brats, but it’s that much better with the local product. Can I recommend Lake Geneva Country Meats, a long-time pal of the blog?

Since this is a wine blog, I poach the bratwurst in wine instead of beer. Use one-half bottle of a fruity, dry white wine; almost anything but an oak-infused chardonnay will work. The other key? Add a well-drained can of sauerkraut to the poaching liquid after you take the bratwursts out and simmer. I use 69-cent grocery store kraut, which works as well as the more expensive, plastic-bag version. The sauerkraut picks up the flavors from the poaching liquid, and becomes something other than just sauerkraut. Plus, you don’t waste all the flavor in the bratwurst-infused poaching liquid.

A tip o’ the WC’s fedora to Nick Vorpagel at Lake Geneva, the third generation of the family business and a fine wine guy, too. Who else would hold a cava and Wisconsin-style bratwurst tasting? Hence, cava works with this dish, so enjoy the blog’s legendary $7 Cristalino. Click here to download or print a PDF of the recipe.

But consider these wines, too:

Falesco Vitiano Bianco 2017 ($12, purchased, 12%): This Italian white is one of the blog’s all-time favorites, and pairs with sausage as if it was made for it. Imported by The Winebow Group.

Foncalieu Le Versant Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): One more $10 French pink that does everything rose is supposed to do. Plus, it doesn’t cost as much as  bottle of white Burgundy. The Foncalieu is crisp, has a hint of red fruit, and ends with a pleasing, almost stony finish. Imported by United Wine & Spirits

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti 2015 ($8, purchased, 13%): This Italian red is usually one of the best of the cheap Chiantis, though I noticed some bottle variation this vintage. Otherwise, competent as always — lots of tart cherry, earthiness, and soft tannins. Imported by TWE Imports

More about wine and food pairings:
Wine and food pairings 2: Roast chicken salad with Chinese noodles
Wine and food pairings 1: Chicken, okra and sausage gumbo
One chicken, five dinners, five wines


Winecast 32: James Gunter, Wines with Conviction

james gunterLooking for wine value from Europe? Importer James Gunter’s advice: Don’t be afraid to try regions and varietals that you may not know

James Gunter started in the wine business standing behind a cash register. Today, he runs Wines with Conviction, a top-notch small importer that specializes in France. His wines are uniformly well made and well priced, whether it’s a $10 Gascon white or a high-end white Burgundy.

We talked about Gunter’s approach to finding great values: Look for producers who have been overlooked by the big companies; don’t be afraid to try wine that isn’t cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay; and especially don’t be afraid to try regions you’ve never hard of.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 10 1/2 minutes long and takes up 9 megabytes. The sound quality is excellent; we recorded it the Wine Curmudgeon’s new Linux-compatible Fifine K669 microphone.

winne and teeth

The best wine advice: Three things everyone should know

wine adviceThis wine advice isn’t about varietal, appellations or even price. It’s about appreciating wine, which is what matters

The best wine advice I’ve gotten in more than two decades of wine writing had nothing to do with varietals, appellations, or even price. It was about understanding and appreciating wine — something too many of us overlook in our haste to find deals, impress others, or chase scores.

Because if we don’t appreciate what we’re drinking, what’s the point?

Hence, three pieces of wine advice, from some of the smartest people I’ve met in the 20-plus years I’ve been doing this:

• “Wine always changes. That’s the point. If it didn’t change, everything would always taste the same,” said the late and much missed Diane Teitelbaum. Many of us are annoyed and frustrated, even in this age of better wine through chemistry, when a wine doesn’t taste identical every vintage. I complained about this when I was a new wine writer, and Diane gave me one of her looks. One of the joys of wine, she said, is that it does change, and that you can learn to appreciate the differences.

• “If you don’t like chocolate ice cream, and someone told you to east chocolate ice cream, would you? Of course not. So why do that with wine?” said Josh Wesson, one of the smartest retailers I ever met. This came early in my career, too, during the 1990s heyday of scores. That’s when too many people bought on points, regardless of what kind of wine got the points.. Wesson was spot on: If a big, heavy red got 93 points, but you don’t like big heavy reds, why buy it because it got 93 points?

• “The minute you think you know everything about wine, you’ve lost what wine is all about. You can never know everything, and you’re missing the point if you think you can.” This is from the legendary importer and distributor Martin Sinkoff, also when I was starting out. And, in the past 2 ½ decades, it may have been the best advice Ive ever received. How many of us have met someone who knows everything about wine, and who is the first to tell us so? And how little do those people really know? And how little do they appreciate wine?

Winebits 529: The making wine easier and more fun edition

making wine easier

“I wish I had sound advice about how to make wine easier.”

This week’s wine news: How to make wine easier and more fun, including a terrific rant from Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post

You’re not stupid: This column from the Washington Post’s Dave McIntyre is brilliant, and I’d say that even if we weren’t long-time friends. “Are you tired of being wine shamed? There are plenty of people who will tell you what you’re doing wrong with wine. … Who needs that sort of criticism? We are judged on so many things in life. Wine should not be one of them.” Or, as regular visitors here know, drink what you like, but be willing to try different kinds of wine. Dave offers three pointers to help you do that: Quality glasses, the correct serving temperature (with an aside to restaurants and their propensity to do this so wrong), and learning how to tell flawed wine. All sound ideas, and not one revolves around price, varietal, or appellation.

Death to scores! The Wine Curmudgeon is always happy to pass along another indictment of wine scores, and this is one of the best. Writes Katie Finn on the Coachella Valley Independent website: “Your house is lovely, but there’s no pool, so you get an 83.” Which I wish I had written, and will use from now on. Finn’s point? That scores make wine more intimidating and more difficult, instead of easier. Which is their reason for being. “Points give consumers the false idea that there is such a thing as a ‘perfect’ wine,” she writes, as accurate a criticism as possible.

Everyday wines: Eric Asimov, writing in the New York Times, laments the difficulty in finding quality everyday wine amid wine’s confusion: “As much attention as is paid to the rare and profound bottles that fire the imagination, far less is devoted to the sorts of wines that people might actually consume at any given weeknight meal.” Guess he needs to spend more time on the bog, yes? Asimov’s advice is spot on, and especially in finding a good wine shop – which we’ve always advocated here.

Ask the WC 15: Wine consumption, wine refrigerators, wine tastings

wine consumptionThis edition of Ask the WC: European wine consumption, and why they’re drinking less; plus, wine refrigerators and how much wine the WC tastes a year.

Because the customers always have questions, and the Wine Curmudgeon has answers in this irregular feature. You can Ask the Wine Curmudgeon a wine-related question .

Hi, WC:
You recently wrote that “European producers keep pulling out vines in the wake of reduced wine consumption in France, Spain, and Italy.” Why is that? Why are they drinking less?

Dear Surprised:
European wine consumption has been steadily declining for years, thanks to stricter drunk driving laws, the aging of the population, and younger drinkers turning away from wine. Sound familiar? Having said that, Europeans still drink more wine per capita than we do — about one bottle a month for Americans compared to four bottles per person in France.

Oh Cheap Wine One:
I’m thinking about buying a wine refrigerator. Do I need one?
Chilling out

Dear Chilling:
Probably not, unless you’re buying wine that needs to age. And most wine doesn’t. The usual figure is that 90 percent of the wine in the world is made to drink within a couple of years of its vintage. In which case, use the fridge — take a cold white wine out about 20 minutes before you want to drink it, and chill a red for 20 or 30 minutes before opening.

Hello, Wine Curmudgeon:
You must write hundreds of wine reviews a year. Do you really taste that much wine? How much do you taste a year?

Dear Curious:
I write about 200 reviews of some sort on the blog each year (which doesn’t include reviews and the like for my freelance work). All told, I probably taste a couple of thousand wines a year between trade tastings, competitions, and drinking at home. It’s like my pal Dave McINtyre says: “It’s not so much that my palate is better is yoursd. I just drink a lot more wine than you do.”

More Ask the Wine Curmudgeon:
Ask the WC 14: The wine availability edition
Ask the WC 13: California chardonnay, grip, affordable wine
Ask the WC 12: $5 wine, varietal character, negative reviews

do it yourself wine review

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.”