Bright Lights, Big Tweety

If Swirl’s blog, Twitter, and Facebook ended today, never to return, I would be fully satisfied because this just happened:

(typos forgiven–the dude’s French)

 

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Awlmost Probably Certainly Relevant to Wine

The once cool to love, now hip to hate writer Jay McInerney gets the treatment of two of Our favorite culture blogs. (Put these guys on your RSS feed. Choire Sicha and Alex Balk are genius on The Awl and The World’s Best Ever distills all things cool in the savviest of ways.) For the record, We still love Jay and his wine writing. We’ll drink Dom Pérignon rosé with him anytime–as long as The Wall Street Journal picks up the tab.

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Pillow Talk

Big Top Wine Tastings

He said: I have only been to two “organized” big wine tastings, but I think I can say emphatically: I don’t like ‘em. They remind me of one of my favorite book titles, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I don’t really like tiny pours. I don’t know if it’s because I am a “wine novice” but it’s difficult for me to discern much with such a small amount. I can decide “I like it” or otherwise, but I need more than a couple of sips to really taste it. Also, it always seems like well-dressed adults are trying to be too buddy-buddy with the winemakers. Too crowded, too early, too forced-fun for me. Not the setting I like to drink wine in. And, I usually can’t hear anybody because so many other loud people are listening to themselves talk.

She said: The first big tasting We went to together (I’ve been to dozens solo) was a Skurnik tasting in New York earlier this year. He declared: “I’m going to taste all 278 of those wines.” Right. I think He tasted 8 wines. I agree the crowds can be stifling–and ridiculous. If it’s not a trade tasting the crowd tends to be an ironically pretentious amateur hour (only they don’t get the irony). But the Wally’s tasting We went to on Sunday was a pleasure for me–saw some old friends, tasted some good wines, and…had a Let’s Be Frank dog that was awesome. Sue Moore is a hot dog dreamboat. Plus Larkin sent us home with two bottles.

He said: The Larkin bottles and the hot dogs were definite highlights.

Late Lunch at Umami Burger

He said: The Umami Burger craze has been going on for a while here in LA. Somehow, it wasn’t until today that We tried it. We walked down to Space 15 Twenty because I wanted to go to Hennessey + Ingalls because I need some books on Landscape Urbanism and Public Space Design. We decided to finally try UB, and, wow, the craze is for real. That was the most unique tasting burger I have had in a long time. Definitely overpriced, but good. Unfortunately, I am still a little bit sick and I don’t know if it was the burger or the pint of Boddington’s, but I hit a wall. The walk back to Her house was hard. I curled up on the sofa and don’t plan to move for the rest of the night.

She said: I had forgotten Umami was at 15-Twenty, so it was a pleasant surprise. I ordered the turkey burger. I figure it has to be an outstanding turkey burger if they serve it at a meaty burger place. Funny, when I ordered a dog from Let’s Be Frank at the Wally’s tasting I asked for the veggie, thinking the same thing. The owner, Sue Moore, asked “Do you eat meat?” “Yes.” “Well, you really should try our regular dog…we source the meat from fantastic sources…” The waitress at Umami did no such sell, but it didn’t matter, I loved my turkey burger. Had a Gruner Veltliner with it and it was a lovely pairing. But the wine list at Umami bums me out: no winemaker or region info are offered on the list. This is important. And the waitress didn’t know. Ultimately, no matter. The meal was great.

New Wall Street Journal Wine Columnists

She said: I’m pretty sure He didn’t know about this until I told Him, but my boyfriend in wine, Jay McInerney, is co-hosting the new wine column in the WSJ. Yes, I crush all over Jay. So why does my favorite bad boy wine writer have to share? If it was anyone BUT Lettie Teague I would be pissed (they are alternating every other Saturday). But I love Lettie–her video series “Educating Peter” reminds me of how Swirl Smell Slurp came about. (The link above is from Pete Wells blog on the NYTimes–the competitor is nervous?)

He said: To be succinct, I don’t care. To be wordy, I haven’t read the WSJ in a decade (except the one I was in) and this probably won’t change that. I don’t know who Lettie Teague is, but I am now a big fan of her name. I love JM’s writing, but I never read any of his columns in real-time. I will wait and read the articles when they are collected into a book. The same way I watch the television show Lost. I watched 4 seasons on a flight to (and hotel rooms in) China. If it is possible to subscribe via RSS to only JM’s column (and absolutely nothing else) from the WSJ website, then I may rethink my hard-line position.

She said: Dopey, we watched Lettie’s videos together. She has that crazy curly hair that I admire (and empathize with) so much.

He said: When and where did we watch those?

She said: Netflix. The cottage. With wine. (Which may be why He doesn’t remember?)

He said: I still don’t remember.


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“Bacchus & Me” and I

Aside from a slew of guidebooks and The Omnivore’s Dilemma on CD, I brought 2 books to read on the trip: Bacchus and Me and Wine and War. Initially I was reading Wine and War and really it is just OK. I’m gonna give it more of a chance, but I’m 50 pages in and I haven’t been hooked yet.

Opposite for Bacchus & Me. It’s a rather quick read (I’m more than halfway done in 2 short pre-sleep sessions). I love McInerney’s writing. I always have. I like it even more when he is writing about wine. My favorite quote thus far:

When writing Grüner Veltliner as the perfect vegetarian wine:

“Like girls and boys locked away in same-sex prep schools, most wines yearn for a bit of flesh.”

I really enjoy the laid-back (though intelligent) way the book is written; the wine comparisons to Lennon & McCartney, admitting he gets too drunk to sometimes remember the details, and of course I always appreciate a reference to Prada shoes or suits.

And I learned something. McInerney posits that German and Austrian labels are notoriously confusing.  Yesterday when wine tasting I saw the term Kabinett on a bottle of Austrian Gewürtztraminer, I knew what it meant.

But who is this Helen Turley person that McInerney seems to be so gaga about?

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“What Can Best Be Left Unsaid”

I’ve been following with interest the comment thread on Eric Asimov’s post on The Pour addressing what not to write about when writing about wine. He explains:

“…writing these sorts of columns for a general audience is always a sort of balancing act, where providing basic background information for novice readers needs to be done without boring more learned readers. And sometimes, one needs to take the public temperature and decide that the basic information that was required in one year is no longer necessary in another.

Asimov’s struggle and his reader’s responses got me thinking about my own pet peeves in wine writing (even though he is my favorite bad-boy wine writing hottie, I read beyond Jay McInernery). But every time I thought of something that irks me, an intrepid commenter would bring it up.

Instead of creating my own list, I’ve distilled what I think are the best points from the readers. I’ve paraphrased and/or summarized and/or restated what others have said. I have original thoughts…but apparently not on this topic. (The first commentator, Thor Iverson, should get props for getting the comments thread going…the first seven points below closely reflect his.)

1. No holiday columns (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, etc.)

2. Take care when writing about Beaujolais: avoid instant condemnation and the use of  “banana yeast;” avoid re-telling the Nouveau marketing story

3. No need to mention chenin blanc being called “steen” in South Africa; no need to mention syrah is referred to as shiraz in Australia, South Africa and Canada

4. No more pointing out the linguistic and stylistic versions of the words “blanc” and “gris;” no need to mention fumé blanc is sauvignon blanc

5. German wines: do not discuss at length the labeling and pradikat system; no need to remind readers that not all German wines are sweet

6. Avoid the history of petite sirah as an offshoot of syrah

7. No need to point out Champagne, Chablis, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Chianti, etc. are places

8. No need to point out that pink does not mean it’s sweet; no need to bash White Zinfandel

9. Statistics about the ranks of countries in wine consumption and production are dull

10. No need to finely dissect the differences between biodynamic, organic, sustainable, and natural when these wines are discussed

11. California wines are world class–no need to rehash the Judgment of Paris

12. The history and meaning of the term “Super Tuscan” is widely known

13. The history and meaning of the term “terroir” is widely known

14. Don’t appeal to the lowest common denominator– no need to explain the definitions of widely used wine terms

15. No need to dispute a myth: Napa Valley is not full of Ferrari’s, ridiculous snobs, and plastic surgeons turned winemakers. (Okay, that one is all me…distilled from a comment I made on Asimov’s blog in 2006.)

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Educational and delicious at the same time

He hasn’t touched the quiz. It’s just sitting there, kind of crumpled, languishing on the chair. Be brave. You can do it.

jay-mcinerney

He’s not totally slacking though: He’s been reading Jay McInerney’s Bacchus and Me: Adventures in the Wine Cellar, I book I greatly enjoyed myself. And not just because I’ve had a crush on Jay since like 1988. Well, that’s part of the reason. In fact, he is the only reason I subscribed to House and Garden; the wine column was so good. And that cute little picture of Jay that accompanied it… Damn I miss it (the column–I have a picture of him). And I told him so when I went to a book signing for The Good Life. Held up the queue a bit, but it was worth it. And I swear he winked at me.

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