Let's be clear about one thing: Winespeak is a hoax.
There, I said it. I'm taking the cowardly way out and saying it in a blog so that I can continue holding my tongue and refraining from telling you you're a moron when you take a sip of some cheap package-store crap and thoughtfully exclaim, "you know, the delicate balance of the charcoal, elderberry, leather, and bergamot notes serve to balance the gentle blend of syrah, zin, and cab. I also detect grassy, earthy notes of burnt cedar, wheatstraw, toasted almond, and pine tar; effervescent yet sullen, incandescent yet demure."
Leonard S. Bernstein also gives the game away in his book The Official Guide to Wine Snobbery:
"You are sure to be regarded as a first-class wine snob if you discern the aroma of violets in a red wine. Naturally, you make much of this, exhibiting considerable excitement and, of course, conviction. Conviction above all else; after all, who can contradict you? The best they can say is that they do not detect the aroma of violets, at which time it will be apparent that their experience is limited and they will feel appropriately humiliated."
Anyway, I'm a hillbilly from Waco, KY and I didn't come to describe wines in language that sounds like a cross between bad poetry and Morimoto's grocery list, I came here to git sumpna drank. I know the difference between a good, bad, and simply mediocre wine, but honestly, I'm not all that concerned if it tastes passable and will provide me that special elegant buzz that can only be obtained specifically from the demon grape.
I tend to prefer tough, manly red wines in general, the kind that sommeliers would recommend with a sirloin steak and fried potatoes. However, I'm equally happy with a light Sangria, which I've imbibed plenty of this past wonderful summer. I like dry wines, flavorful wines, powerful wines, wines that compete with a meal rather than merely compliment it. But I don't want to hear about "notes". (The madness has even struck beer drinkers - some people here say they detected "faint notes of bubblegum" and a "subtle hint of over-ripe bananas" in my beloved Duvel. They are obviously insane.)
Which brings us to a favorite recent acquisition: the 2006 "The Prisoner" wine from Orin Swift Cellars. You can read what the experts say about it here, or, my fellow Transylvanians, you can take my word for it that it's tasty on the tongue and easy on the arteries. It's frou-frou enough you can serve to it your classy friends and swirl it ostentatiously in goblets, or just chug it straight from the bottle while grilling ribs on your porch, which I'm not ashamed to say I've done.
The Prisoner's pricey - at $35 a bottle, this is about as much as I'm willing to spend on a bottle of wine unless you tell me it was fermented with Thomas Jefferson's wig or something. But if you figure you're worth it (and if you read this blog, then goddamnit, you are worth it) then try some, buy some. It's easily my favorite wine purchase this year, and goes perfect with grilled meats of all kinds. The 2006 is already out of stock from Orin Swift, but I'm still seeing it on store shelves... so procure yourself a bottle while you still can!
- - JSH