When In Ridgedale, Drink As The Norwegians Sing

Book coverI cannot understand why this is not an aphorism. Perhaps it’s better as a koan: What does it mean?

It means that, when choosing a wine to go with our meal at the Devil’s Pool restaurant at Big Cedar last week, I selected the wine that goes best with Norwegian heavy metal covers: Frog’s Leap Zinfandel.

Frog Leap Studios, of course, is the name of Leo Moracchioli’s venture. Here’s a recent song of his, a cover of Madness’s “Our House” that advertises Leo’s house for sale:

I looked into it; the house is roughly $300,000 in real money. Located in the balmy southeastern part of Norway, if I lived there, I’d expect to bump into Morton Harket, Pal Waaktaar-Savoy, and Tine Thing Helseth all the time.

But, alas, I am a man of modest means and cannot afford tiny little houses with awesome recording studios in the shed. Or castles closer by.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the wine. Very nice.

Apparently, I have a thing for wines that remind me of heavy metal bands. Or just a thing for wine.

As I Was Saying To My Beautiful Wife…

on a warm spring night, a little chilled white wine is a treat.

You know who agrees with me? Ned Flanders from the Simpsons.

And a Ned Flanders-themed metal band.

Don’t look for Okilly Dokilly on my music balance lists any time soon, though. It’s a bit of a shame that some metal bands have to do a gag or something to get attention.

But if they’re having fun with it, go with it. They got to make an appearance under the closing credits on a Simpsons episode, so they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.

Box Wine Sold Here

When I saw this on the wine list, that’s what I thought:

But instead of just snarking, I did some research, and apparently wine in kegs is a thing:

The next time you ask your waiter what’s on tap, the answer might surprise you. How about a Calera Pinot Noir or Bouchaine Chardonnay? A growing number of restaurants and bars are putting kegs of wine behind their bars, pouring wines by the glass from a tap. While the trend is not a new one, it has finally caught on as wineries, restaurants and consumers alike discover that the wines are good and there are economic and environmental benefits to kegs.

Wine drinkers can find keg wines in wine bars and restaurants all over the country, with high concentrations in California and New York. Two Urban Licks in Atlanta has a wine wall 26 feet tall with 42 stainless steel barrels of wine on display. There’s even a Whole Foods in Dallas that sells wine on tap.

It makes sense, I suppose.

Christmas Libations

So what wine did we pair with Christmas dinner this evening?

Well, it seemed symmetrical to our selection in early November to choose The Patriarch:

Actually, it was a gift from a friend who brought it along to Christmas dinner, but I cracked it open because of the previous wine selection.

It does, though, remind me that I have been the Patriarch of this family, the oldest male in my lines, since 1995, before I even had a family to patriarch over. But I’d just finished college, so I knew how to oppress even then.

When You Send Brian J. Into The Nogglestead Wine Cellar

Book coverI grilled a couple of steaks last night, and I asked my beautiful wife if she would like me to pick out a bottle of wine.

What, then, are the odds that I would select something named for a song by the band Unleash the Archers?

To be clear, I did not buy a bottle of The Matriarch because it shares a name with the song, although I would have if I had the chance. The bottle came as part of a Random Number Generator Wine Club that my wife joined on a lark which sent a number of remaindered bottles from various California and Missouri wineries to our house. The Matriarch here is actually one of the better selections from the wine club. It’s a red blend, a little Malbecky, but pretty good for a Missouri wine.

If I see it at the local shops, I might pick it up. After all, I am the sort of man that dresses his whole family up as heavy metal fans for the church’s Trunk or Treat just so I have an excuse to buy an Unleash the Archers shirt.

Which I wear almost every day.

Now In Thrown Drink Version

Drops of Jupiter in her hair?

Now available when you dramatically throw this wine at someone!

And, honestly, as the Red Blend tastes like slightly sweet alcoholic prune juice, this is a drink for throwing.

For the record, Save Me, San Francisco winery is Train’s winery that donates to a San Francisco charity. All of the wines are named after Train songs. Also, I like Train.

Man, I have to stop buying novelty wines.

Bad Fortune

Apparently, Miller has some sort of beer called Fortune. Whose branding is a single Spade:

Miller's Mis Fortune

A single spade.

Like the Ace of Spades.

As anyone who knows anything about fortune telling could tell you, the Ace of Spades card means misfortune or death.

I’m getting awfully damn curmudgeonly, but I loudly suspect our younger generation is even getting educated poorly in superstitions and pseudo-science.

All Alone In The Middle Of A Venn Diagram

Last night, my beautiful wife and I went to the wine shop.

What did I get? What television told me to.

Downton Dynasty and Duck Abbey wines

You know the target markets for these two products do not generally overlap. Or do they?

Fun Science Fact: These bottles actually repel each other like magnets.

UPDATE: As I clarify in the comments:

I said like magnets because I was being all Bill Nyey and dumbing it down for the lay people. The actual force in play is disdainetic force, and it’s only present in the Downton Abbey wine. The disdainetic force does not repel; instead, it is repelled. The Downton Abbey wine is repelled by the Duck Dynasty Commander wine bottle and wants to move away from it. The Duck Commander wine has no disdainetic repulsion in it and does not care what other wine bottles are nearby.

A Name For Men, A Cutesy Picture For The Ladies

Book coverPredator wine. It’s got a name that sounds like a Schwarzenegger movie, a name that speaks of a hunter stalking its prey and feasting on the warm, uncooked meat of a fresh kill.

And then it’s got a cutesy little lady bug logo underneath it. Something that looks like the little tattoo a middle-aged woman gets on her shoulder during her mid-life crisis (or in her .375 life crisis at 30). I remember when table wines were proliferating, and all of a sudden we went from Mad Dog to a bunch of cutesy kangaroos and penguins on labels. Women could feel safe cuddling with those bottles of wine.

So now we have this fusion: A wine with a name strong enough for a man, but a logo made for a woman. Something a couple can share, with all the marketing necessary to lure in casual retail wine browsers.

Also, note that it is the only Zin I have ever drunk that has an undercurrent of barbecue.

Yes, I know, technically speaking, a ladybug is a predator that eats aphids. I have a garden, you know. DWL! The vineyard’s Web site even explains it for those who don’t. But, really, when you hear predator, do you think ladybug?

Friday Hooch Musings

Everyone has covered this study already:

Moderate drinking may lengthen your life, while too much may shorten it, researchers from Italy report. Their conclusion is based on pooled data from 34 large studies involving more than 1 million people and 94,000 deaths.

According to the data, drinking a moderate amount of alcohol — up to four drinks per day in men and two drinks per day in women — reduces the risk of death from any cause by roughly 18 percent, the team reports in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

I have consulted my own Personal Liquor consultant, who notes that drinking is like an IRA; if you didn’t contribute when you were young, you can contribute more each year until you catch up. Which explains why I’m on the 12 a day program. To catch up for my toddler years.

Meanwhile, we have this story: Alcohol consumers turn to the good stuff:

Indeed, the St. Louis area falls into the national trend of drinkers buying better.

“It’s happening across all retail channels,” said Barbara Insel, managing director of MKF Research of St. Helena, Calif. “People have become more quality conscious.”

One paid muser muses:

Hagnauer theorized that the trend toward pricier alcohol might be linked to an increase in disposable income.

“A lot of it is the economy, but people are becoming more educated, too” Hagnauer said.

If one were a conservative sort of fellow, one would want to start up with some sort of line of snark that begins with “Oh, the disappearing middle class with its stagnating wages are suddenly buying $20 bottles of wine every night instead of a $4 six pack of beer? Oh, really?

But I understand this really only means a quality-conscious consumer needs better liquor to dull the pain of a continued Bush administration and that the better education is no doubt product of the compassionately profligate No Budget Left Behind act.

Which leads me, circularly, to my sixth drink of the morning.

Wine Marketers Targeting Children

BEYOND ANIMAL MAGNETISM: The lesson of critter labels: Drinkers judge wine by what’s on the bottle:

Three Blind Moose, Four Emus, Funky Llamas. A menagerie of critter labels on wines has emerged in the past three years, all hoping to emulate the success of a certain Yellow Tailed marsupial. In 2005, these wines locked up $605 million in sales, and average sales of 77 new animal labels launched since 2003 more than doubled those of their non-critter rivals, according to ACNielsen. So, it seems, what’s on the label does make a difference.

Put a camel on a pack of cigarettes, and you’re targeting children. So I got some bad news for the wine marketing crowd when the Round All Corners Society picks up on this tidbit of research.

Sad Testament

So, how many of the RateBeer.com’s Worst 50 Beers have you had?

My total:

  1. Busch NA
  2. Steelback Tango
  3. Black Label 11-11 Malt Liquor
  4. Sleeman Clear
  5. Steelback Silver
  6. Michelob Ultra
  7. O’Douls
  8. B-40 Bull Max
  9. Coors Non-Alcoholic
  10. Olde English 800 3.2
  11. Pabst NA
  12. PC 2.5 g Low Carb
  13. Natural Light
  14. Tuborg T-Beer
  15. Steelback Link
  16. Jacob Best Ice
  17. Natural Ice
  18. Camo Silver Ice High Gravity Lager
  19. Gluek Stite Light
  20. Miller Sharps
  21. Camo Genuine Ale
  22. Coors Aspen Edge
  23. Diamond White Cider
  24. Molson Ex Light
  25. Hurricane Ice
  26. Hurricane High Gravity Lager
  27. Labatt Sterling
  28. Milwaukees Best
  29. Tuborg T-Beer Citrus
  30. General Generic Beer
  31. Outback Chilli Beer
  32. Busch Ice
  33. Molson Kick
  34. Blue Ice Beer
  35. Cave Creek Chili Beer
  36. Tuborg Super Light
  37. Tooheys Blue Bitter
  38. Pabst Ice
  39. Fosters Light
  40. Hek Original Lager Blonde Beer (Blue label)
  41. Old Milwaukee Ice
  42. Fosters Ice
  43. Lucky Lager Force 10
  44. Zhujiang 10°
  45. Bootie Light
  46. Schlitz Red Bull
  47. Archa
  48. Bud Light
  49. Matt Accel
  50. Genesee NA

I have drunk 6 of the worst beers in the world. I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed.

I’m Not a Fan of French Wine, But….

I certainly don’t embrace invoking the Bioterrorism Act:

Washington is demanding a new wine accord by July 15 to replace one which expired in 2003 and which would enshrine American wine-making practices banned in Europe.

These include adding oak wood chips to barrels of wine to hasten the ageing process, adding water to must (the grape juice before fermentation is complete), and the use of ion extractors to reduce acidity.

Representatives of struggling French wine producers appealed at the international Vinexpo wine fair in southwestern Bordeaux this week to Agriculture Minister Dominique Bussereau and External Trade Minister Christine Lagarde to protect their interests in the negotiations.

European Union officials, pushed by traditionalists, are so far refusing to extend a current dispensation allowing the American practices, but US officials say that if no agreement is reached they will tighten application of the Bioterrorism Act.

This law, introduced after the September 11 2001 attacks in the United States, covers imports of all food and drink.

That’s a creative application of legislation. Which means it’s poor legislation.

Pass a good law, prevent or punish a specific act. Pass the normal legislation, and the creative applications never stop.

(Submitted to the Outside the Beltway Traffic Jam.)