10/14/08 – debatable reds

By Jesse on October 13, 2008


Engaged as we’ve all surely been by the debate highlights witnessed thus far in this year’s variety show of an election — from the deferred handshakes, to the “that one”s, to the shout-outs to third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary — I thought it best to bump the Winos’ weekly gathering to Tuesday.  That way, our respective Wednesday nights can be unencumbered by all responsibilities besides imbibing in the fourth and final showdown (and spending the requisite few hours afterward carefully considering our election day options).  However, that certainly doesn’t mean we’re going to run an apolitical meeting on the eve of such a portentous affair.  We’ll be getting into the spirit early by tasting “debatable” wines — specifically, wines featuring three or more varietals, which we’ll judge based on the strengths of the various grapes’ platforms (how apparent the individual grapes are in the nose and the palate), as well as their ability to reach across the aisle (how well they integrate themselves into a cohesive blend).  We’ll stick to reds this week… after all, the red states have been looking a bit shaky lately, and could probably use the boost.

In January of this year, we tasted white wines of three or more varietals — check out that page for a few ideas on where to begin looking.  Several regions which offered good white blends should perform well on the red side as well: France’s Rhône Valley serves up blends of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre (and Cinsaut, and Carignan, and a bunch of grapes I can’t pronounce), while certain bottles of Bordeaux may include quanties of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Carmenere… ask your friendly wine merhant for help with the French bottles, as they often won’t list the grape breakdown on the label.  Australia is once again a good bet, as they’ll blend basically anything together down there, while California offers up Meritage — basically a Cali-style blend of three or more Bordeaux grapes — as well as a good amount of domestic Rhône-style “GSM” blends, like the ones we tried at Rhone Rangers.  Also, California producers sometimes get funky with things like Zinfandel, Tempranillo and Sangiovese.  Or maybe you can find a manic cocktail from some other part of the world.  Huge props go to the bearer of the wackiest blend!

We’ll be meeting at the Winos’ fortified compound in Sherman Oaks. (As an aside, we don’t mean to suggest by the use of the term “fortified compound” that the Winos are stockpiling weapons. Rather, my apartment is fortified in the same sense that some wines are fortified: there’s simply a fair amount of liquor inside.)  The RSVP system functions like this: if you want in, you send me an e-mail the same day you received this one. Spots are assigned based on a complex algorithm which gives priority to long-term members but also reserves seats at each and every meeting for new people. If you’re denied entry due to a meeting exceeding capacity, don’t worry — you’ll be at the top of the list the next week. We try to keep everyone satisfied, and we think we do a pretty good job.

Once you’ve received your confirmation e-mail, head into the world and find yourself an absurd blend of three or more red varietals – or, as always, simply bring along a $10 bill.  We’ll see you patriots on Tuesday night at 9:00!