a boysenberry jam frat party shit storm

Above: I included the Copain Pinot Noir Tous Ensembles in my recommendations for the Houston Press today. The alcohol content — 12.9% (YES!) — is reported in lettering so small and faint that you’d think the winemaker was embarrassed by it.

I never thought in a million years that I’d find myself writing regularly about American wines.

But then again, I never imagined in a million years that I’d have an editor that would allow me to write things like “a boysenberry jam frat party shit storm” (thank you, Cathy! you rock!).

I didn’t write the line in reference to the Copain Pinot Noir (above). It was inspired by a sales rep that tried to hard sell a wine to Darrell Corti one day when I was visiting him in his store (Darrell is one of the people in the world I admire most and whose friendship I cherish most dearly).

When Darrell courteously asked the gentleman to leave the bottle for his weekly staff tasting, he responded saying, “you’ve got to taste this wine: it tastes like boysenberry jam!” After he left, Darrell showed me the label, pointing to the 16 percent alcohol. He just shook his head, as if to say they’ll never learn.

A few months later (I was in Sacramento on that occasion making a record at The Hangar), the earth-shaking story about Darrell prohibiting 14.5 percent Zinfandel broke in the blogosphere.

The editors at the Houston Press have been very supportive in my efforts to write about American wines with candor and honesty and in keeping with my steadfast belief that wines with high acidity, low alcohol, and wholesome (as opposed to chemically manipulated) flavors and aromas are the key to healthy and happy enjoyment of wine (and good pooping)… And while I can’t say that Tracie P and I serve the wines regularly in our home (where Italian prevails, pervades, and precludes, and French and Natural Californian appear more than occasionally), I can say that I only review wines that I’ve actually tasted and wines that I genuinely respect (and of course, I’m limited to wines that are available in the Houston market).

Click here for my “Top 5 All-American Red” recommendations today in the Houston Press.

ZinFANdel is the new Beaujolais? Julia is the new Julia


Tracie B and I went on a date last night to the movies, to see Julia and Julia. Our favorite movie house is Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse, where you can have dinner (bar food and pizza) and drink during the movie. But the coolest thing about Alamo is that as people are filing into the theater, before the previews, they show all these really cool vintage clips that are somehow related to or inspired by the film — often with great comic effect.

Yesterday’s pre-show reel included a number of 1960s commercials for instant foods (like Quaker instant grits, useful for “southerners traveling in the north,” or Cool Whip, “instantly frozen to preserve freshness”) and vintage Julia Child.

In one of the vintage Julia clips, she discusses how to throw a wine tasting party and talks about a flight of roughly ten wines. She calls Beaujolais a “hardy” wine and it seems to be her go-to wine. And when she gets to Zinfandel she pronounces it zin-FAN-del, with the penultimate syllable as the tonic syllable. Zinfandel, she says, is the American equivalent of Beaujolais. She also discusses Burgundian and Californian “Pinot Chardonnay” and she tells the viewer that Cabernet Sauvignon is the most noble of wines.


We’ve come an awful long way since the late 1960s, haven’t we? The labels of the wines are covered but on a number of them, you can see a strip label that looks like that old Oakie Bob Chadderdon. Is that possible?

I wouldn’t exactly call Julia and Julia a bildungsroman but I won’t conceal that we enjoyed it immensely. Meryl Streep is great, as always. And the tableaux from Paris and the discussion and descriptions of food were super fun.

But the funniest part — at least to me and Tracie B — was the discussion of blogging and its novelty in post-9/11 New York. After all, we both know the difference that blogging can make and the wondrous new paths it can take you on.

It was a year ago tomorrow that I first got on a plane in San Diego and came to Austin to meet the wonderful, intriguing, and gorgeous lady whom I met through a comment on my blog.