Missing the (Percentage) Point Completely

A lovely little vintage for those fond of not drinking

Clever readers will know that I'm pretty much dead-set against uber-high alcohol wines. I've given a number of reasons, including the fact that I like the way wine tastes, so a high-alcohol blockbuster means the fun is over too soon (one glass and I'm napping), most high-alcohol wines taste sweet, something I'm not always in the mood for, especially in a red to go with food) and just on general principles: I was raised on good French reds in the 12.5% range and I'm not especially chuffed at higher alcohol as a signifier of quality.

So it was with some irritation that I read Jason Wilson's article over at the Smart Set, On Big and Scary Wines, Or why 14 percent is considered OK, and 14.1 is the end of the world. Jason posted an anecdote about tasting and enjoying a 15.5% ABV wine. The conclusion that he drew from tasting this single wine was that anyone  averse to high alcohol wines is hysterical, a 'hater', speaking with 'rancor' and perhaps the most serious and hurtful charge of all, 'Anti-Parker'. Heaven forfend anyone should disagree with the blessed Saint Parker!

Robert Parker, my favorite wine critic. Not shown: puppy he is eating.

Wilson's article has a patina of reasonability, but in his failure to understand (or perhaps in an obdurate desire to set up a straw-man and knock it down) he completely misses the point: the problem isn't the difference between 14% and 14.1% (and please, straw man much?) The problem is hanging grapes until they are over-ripe wads of flavourless potential alcohol most often makes uniformly bland wines.  Over-ripe grapes don't make bad wine because they deliver too much alcohol. Over-ripe grapes make bad wine because they little or no finesse, a blandness of character and all the subtle and delicacy of a suckerpunch to the genitals. And I don't like getting junk-punched by wine. I'll save that for my next meeting with Parker.

Another few weeks and they'll finally be ripe enough!

Wilson cites Darrel Corti's decision to stop carrying wines over 14.5% alcohol in his high-profile and influential wine store in Sacramento as evidence of Corti starting a 'crusade'.

It’s been three years since wine legend Darrell Corti famously banned wines with more than 14.5 percent alcohol from his family’s venerated gourmet shop, Corti Brothers in Sacramento, California. Though a few notable dissenters piped up — including critic Robert Parker, who called it “appallingly stupid, frighteningly arbitrary, and like some part of a police state’s mentality” — Corti’s crusade was met mostly with applause among the cognoscenti. Decrying high-alcohol wines as “unbalanced” or "fruit bombs" or even "dangerous" became one of the biggest issues in wine. Many sommeliers and shops followed Corti’s lead.

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Proud of Pink

Eye-wateringly pretty

It's one of my favorite times of the year! Next Wednesday, the 23rd of February is Pink Shirt Day. If you read my blog, you'll recall I've mentioned it before (here, here and here). Pink Shirt Day is a day of solidarity, where we as a society show our true colours and stand up for the victims of bullying.

Given my size and assertiveness, I'm unlikely to be the subject of bullying. Frankly, I never have to give it a second thought. But that's why it's crucially important for people like me to refuse to allow bullying to go on in our presence. Edmund Burke said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. So let's all be good men and women--and children--and do something.

Putting on a pink shirt may seem like a small gesture, but bullying only thrives in darkness and secret. When we all shine a light on it, and refuse to allow it, we can remove it from our lives. If you'd like a bit more information and resources on anti-bullying efforts, Pink Shirt Day has an excellent page full of good ideas, information and links.

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Happy Valentine's Day!


February 14th is of course the most romantic day of the year, or a crass commercialisation of expressions of romantic love by greeting card companies and florists, depending upon how much poetry you have in your soul, or how much cash has recently fled your wallet in pursuit of chocolates, roses and dinner out with your sweetie.

The true origins of Valentine's Day are, like all good stories, lost in a mish-mash of borrowing, baloney and blathering. A quick look at the history of the day tracks it back variously to Roman saints (now dropped off the calendar), Lupercalia, Victorian magazine writers and Geoffrey Chaucer's poetry

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Limited Edition, The Italian Connection and the CIA

My Cuban heel fell off in the Bay of Pigs!

Limited Edition wines continue to be made and arrive in the shops of Winexpert's retail partners around the globe. From Sydney to Burbank, Salt Lake to Fredericton the long awaited juices are making their way into the eager hands of winemakers. The first two, the Australian Shiraz-Viognier and the Pacifica White were delivered in January and now the second red, the Italian Primitivo is up.

Darryl, packin' 'em up and shippin' 'em out.

But just how much do you know about Primitivo the region we sourced it from, Puglia? Well, you could always watch my video on the subject and become an instant expert. But if you think you're a real smartnik, have I got some wine-and-food fun for you.

I was perusing the interwebs this morning, as I am fond of doing (they have it on computers now, very convenient) and I came across a bold statement: "The CIA Launches Free Online Learning". Ever since I saw Sean Connery judo-chopping villains, dispensing both ironic wit and mayhem, I wanted to be a spy. This looked like my chance!

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Posted by Spymaster Tim AT 10:47AM 1 Comment Comments Post A Comment Post A Comment Email Email
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