Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Of Wine, Green Eggs, and Ham

Two topics today which could only be linked in my fevered mind: Doctor Seuss and overblown wine descriptions.

Today is the anniversary of the birth in 1904 of author Theodor Geisel, better known to generations of children and their parents as Doctor Seuss. What parent hasn't read classic Dr Seuss tales like The Cat in the Hat...

and Green Eggs and Ham

to their children and grandchildren? If I had one thin dime for every time I've intoned the words "I do not like green eggs and ham/I do not like them, Sam I Am!" to a giggling child, I could retire in comfort on some warm and distant tropical beach, sipping drinks with little umbrellas in them.

What does this have to do with wine descriptions, you ask?

The other day I read this marvelous article by Coco Krumme on - Velvety Chocolate With a Silky Ruby Finish. Pair With Shellfish. Ridiculous Wine Descriptors May Reveal More About a Bottle's Price Than Its Flavor. This article contains a link to an even more marvelous (marvelouser?) article by Richard E. Quant titled, On Wine Bullshit.

How many overblown and ridiculous descriptions of a bottle of wine have you read over the years? If you enjoy wine as much as Agnes and I do, you've no doubt read your share of silly and unhelpful wine reviews that are long on bizarre adjectives and comparisons and short on useful information. Consider this possible description of a bottle of wine, extracted from Ms Krumme's article:

"A velvety chocolate texture and enticingly layered, yet creamy, nose, this wine abounds with focused cassis and a silky ruby finish. Lush, elegant, and nuanced. Pair with pork and shellfish."

Armed with a description like that, a restaurant could easily charge, say, $150 for a bottle of common rotgut that you could buy for about six bucks at Costco.

I remember the good old days, before Agnes instructed me in the culture of wine. Life was easier then. I selected my wines by a careful analysis of the information on the label ... if said label contained key elements of information such as images of bare-breasted ladies and scenic castles on hilltops, accompanied with incomprehensible French words and a vintage date earlier than last week, it was probably okay to purchase and serve to my guests with an appropriate flourish.

All of which has absolutely nothing to do with Dr Seuss, except to cause me to wonder what sort of wine I'd serve with green eggs and ham. I assume it would be something like

"A rich and full-bodied blending of savory bacon and egg with hints of green yolk. Serve in a boat, with a goat, here or there, or anywhere."

Think about this rule of thumb the next time you shell out big bucks for a bottle of wine: the longer and more overblown the description, the higher the price.

Who wants to drink graphite, slate, tobacco, or silky rubies, anyhow?

Have a good day. Salut! More thoughts tomorrow.



Sandra said...

I am not a wine drinker, and although I agree, I wouldn't want anything that tasted or had the texture of graphite, slate, tobacco, or silky rubies (I might want to own a silky ruby however!) I think I might be swayed by the "velvety chocolate"'s chocolate!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I love wine but I hate all the pretentiousness comes with it.

Went to Sonoma and did a tour that was prearranged for us at winery's that don't normally do tours. At Jordan we were taken to this fancy schmancy room and were given food and taught why the certain glasses etc. At the end of all the "teaching" and drinking and eating he said, "I don't care if it's wine from a box or ours, drink what you like,like what you drink and just enjoy! You are still helping the wine growers here and we thank you!"

That was probably the best advice I learned the whole time.

Raquel's World said...

Love your description of the green eggs and ham. Great point about wine.

Mike said...

I think wine BS might be one step above political BS.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Suess's rhyming was always annoying!

allenwoodhaven said...

My father loved wine and enjoyed learning about it. He once took a class in formal wine tasting and noticed the man sitting next to him write in his notes, about one wine they sampled, the initials D.N.P.I.M.

Unable to contain his curiousity, my father asked what it meant. The reply: Do Not Put In Mouth! We had many a laugh about that.

One of my father's joys was finding a very good inexpensive wine. He'd buy a case or two and serve it to friends and family with a big smile on his face, knowing that everyone liked it and that it didn't have to cost and arm and a leg. He sometimes bought those wines too, but would save them for special small occasions.

The bottom line, as Margaret said above, is to drink what you like and not to worry about what others think.

KathyA said...

Trying to come up with rhymes for 'sangiovese, montepulchiano. and riesling'....