Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Whine and Dine

I have always enjoyed the way people talk and write about wine, as if it were more than squished up grapes and the product of the resultant fermentation.  Just listen to the wine review shows on the radio or read one of the 87 oenophile magazines in the wooden racks at Barnes & Noble, and you start to wonder what the deal is, why people are so moved to rapturous language when discussing something that the people at Welch's make a billion bottles of every year, only they sell it fresh.  

I mean, here's one at random, literally the first wine review I Googled up:

Seven Hills Winery, Walla Walla Valley (Washington) “Pentad” 2006 ($50)
 To make this wine, the winery vinifies six different grapes and chooses the best five wines (hence “Pentad”), which means that the blend of grapes changes from year to year.  It’s always based on Cabernet Sauvignon, and in 2006 that grape represents 65% of the final blend.  Unusually in 2006, however, the wine contains no Merlot, and does have 7% Cabernet Franc (along with 7% each of Carmenère and Malbec and 14% Petit Verdot).  It’s a wonderfully graceful, finessed wine with fairly delicate aromas and flavors of dark fruits, cedar, mint and eucalyptus. Harmony is the name of the game here more than power.  Food-friendliness goes with the territory.

Well now. I think I dropped a sawbuck on a horse named Pentad once.  Now they want 50 smackers for a bottle of wine with the same name.  And   "Vinifies" ? It sounds like they didn't have enough grapes to make a lot of wine, so they dumped whatever they had into a Mulligatawny Stew of wine.  And who gets to decide which five of the six grapes make the cut? But I like "vinify" as a word, if it exists.  And the phrase " a wonderfully graceful, finessed wine with fairly delicate aromas and flavors of dark fruits, cedar, mint and eucalyptus."  How many times did Joe, Steve, Mike and I say that as we sat on the banks of the reservoir as teens, passing bottles of Boone's Farm back and forth?  Even then we knew that food-friendliness went with the territory, so we would each wolf down a whole pizzaburger
Wouldn't this taste good..right now?
sub from Maria's of Taylor and Oakleigh.  (They would put pizza sauce and cheese on an opened-up sub roll and stick that in the oven while they fried three hamburger patties, which, when cooked, were graciously piled into the roll.  The whole thing was then wrapped in virgin aluminum foil, or "wrapified." I remember Steve pointing out that the hamburger patties had "fairly delicate aromas and flavors of cow.")

I'm only harshing the wine critics because their lingo is spreading.  Just the other day, the SUN paper had a review of some pizza palazzo in SoWeBa (Southwest Baltimore, about a hundred miles from our NoEaBa) and the review said the pizza was "unpretentious."  Here's how Google defines "pretentious," and while reading this, make sure that the next pizza you get has none of this going on:
  • making claim to or creating an appearance of (often undeserved) importance or distinction; "a pretentious country house"; "a pretentious fraud"; "a pretentious scholarly edition"
  • ostentatious: intended to attract notice and impress others; "an ostentatious sable coat"
  • ostentatious: (of a display) tawdry or vulgar
Man oh Manischewitz, I cannot stand it when they slide a pizza down in front of me and it seems tawdry. Or vulgar. Or intends to attract notice or create an appearance of often undeserved importance or distinction.  Bill Clinton was right to agree with Freud that sometimes, a pizza is just a pizza.  

Unless it becomes...pretentious.  

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