Thursday, April 17, 2008

Eddie's Not-So-Weekly Wine Column

I have received complaints from some of you over the past several weeks concerning the infrequency of my “weekly” wine column. Some of you have even argued that I should write my weekly wine column once a week. But genius doesn’t work on a time-table. Did Einstein work on his theory of relativity once a week? Doubt it. Did Beethoven write a symphony once a week? I don’t think so. So why are you holding me to a different standard? Because my genius is greater than that of Einstein’s and Beethoven’s put together? Good argument. And perhaps you are correct, but I sincerely hope that you, my fans, understand that the mind of a genius works on its own time-table.

So let me tell you all you need to know about the Baltimore Wine and Food Expo held several weeks ago at the historic Tremont Hotel in downtown B-more. If you weren’t there, you missed an amazing time. For the entrance fee of $50, there was great food, great wine, and a little something extra I like to call the “wow factor.” I say “wow” because this wine festival understands what other wine festivals sometimes do not. Humans are affected by the intoxicating affects of alcohol. Recent studies have concluded that alcohol can impair one’s ability to drive, and even more surprisingly, it can impair one’s judgment and decision-making ability.

Spanish researchers reached similar findings more than 100 years ago, and they developed a treatment to sort of “doll” the affects of alcohol: tapas. Tapas are essentially little snacks provided to you when you order an alcoholic drink in any bar in Spain.

At many wine festivals I’ve been to in the past, the “food” portion was usually limited to tasteless crackers or other items that patrons had to pay extra for. What was so great about the Baltimore Wine and Food Expo is that great food was provided to everyone, throughout the expo, free of charge. Dozens of Baltimore area restaurants, ranging from everything like P.F. Changs (and other big chains) to Sotto Sopra and The Brass Elephant (smaller, more family-owned establishments), provided samples of their signature dishes. And I found that you could “sample” the same dish more than once. That Groucho Marx mustache sure did come in handy . . .

The wines were similarly diverse. The best wines were found in the V.I.P. room – which was not just a room for V.I.P.s like myself – V.I.P. is the distributer for many small, high quality vineyards in California. The best in show were several of the wines from Bink Vineyards. Bink is a small mom and pop style vineyard located in Mendicino, California, and they have everything from a Cabernet Sauvignon that will knock your socks off to a Pinot Noir that will slap you in the taste buds. Delicious. If you ever find a Bink wine at a restaurant or wine shop (and yes, many Baltimore restaurants carry this label), do yourself a favor and buy a bottle (and me one too, please.)

As I always do, I’ll conclude this column with what I know you’re all desiring. No, sorry, I don’t have any pictures of me in that leopard-print thong. I’m talking about a wine recommendation. This week, I give you two. Why two? Because this time of year, we get those cold evenings, where all you want to do is snuggle up to a rich bottle of red wine, and we also get those warmer evenings, where you want to be seduced and zinged by a bottle of crisp white wine.

For the red, try the 2006 Marquis Phillips Shiraz from South-Eastern Australia. It retails for about $12-15 and is even sexier than my leopard-print thong – well, I suppose that’s debatable. It’s full-bodied, yet not obnoxious. It’s silky smooth, yet not wimpy. It’s the gentle lover with a five o’clock shadow I know you’ve been looking for.

For the white, try the 2007 Brancott Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. It retails for about $10-14, and is everything a good SB should have: crisp front, citrus tones, and a clean finish. The only downside to this wine is that each bottle only has 750 ml. O, and don’t let the screw cap fool you – all New Zealand wineries have switched to screw caps because studies have shown that the spoilage rate of wines from screw caps is about 100 times less than from traditional cork. Take that France.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy these great Spring wine picks. My next column will address what wines go great with that first Springtime Bar-B-Q or grill. And don’t rush me on it. Again, nobody rushed Picasso to produce his famous La Vie painting during his Blue Period.


Shirlie said...

Thanks for the article, Eddie! Erin and I value your contribution to our blog. But, one question: don't you feel that twisting open the wine bottle detracts from the whole sensory experience and anticipation of what might blossom in the wineglass? It just feels cheap to me, no matter how great the taste is. I think twist-offs are a subtle psychological barrier which will always relegate said wines to the category of unimpressive, those wines which feel/taste like an under 10 buck wine. Thoughts or comments?

Anonymous said...

Shirlie, this is Eddie, not Anonymous. Anyway, I couldn't disagree with you more. The stats are that on average, about 3% of wines with traditional corks go bad before they are opened (it's called being "corked.") That percentage increases as wines age. What's more frustrating than spending good money for wine, aging it the proper length, and then finally opening it on a special ocassion and find that it tastes like a wet sock? For this very reason, and because it does happen about 3% of the time with traditional corks - and practically NEVER with screw caps - I believe screw caps are the waive of the future. It's simply a better way of bottling. New Zealand gets it. Australia is currently switching over. And it's just a matter of time before others do as well. The psychological barrier will subside . . .

Anonymous said...

hmph. Well, when I see J.P Feuillet twisting off a top to a bottle of Bordeaux, I'll be convinced that you were right all this time.