by Chris Van Orden
In the past few weeks, I’ve received several letters from you (or was it one letter from several of you? I can never remember), asking, “Chris, with your abounding class and chiseled good looks, what can you tell me about wine? I always get funny looks when I show up to a BYO with a chilled bottle of Thunderbird. I’m lost – please help!”
Oh readers, of course I’ll help; in fact, I’ve done you one better. I’ve just published a book on all things wine. Against the advice of my agent, I’ve copied below just a few excerpts from my future best-seller Wine? Wine not!: A Beginner’s Guide to Grape-Based Alcohol.
-Many newcomers to wine – ‘ama-pours’, as we call them – are scared off when confronted with the infinite wisdom of the sommelier. Don’t be scared! ‘Sommelier’ is a self-conferred title, just like “poet-laureate” or “doctor”. It’s a nonsense word that can refer to anyone. Just say the following words: ‘I am a world class sommelier’. Now you are!
-There is no such thing as domestic wine. In a freedom fries-esque move, Americans have placed the beverage alongside Yoo-hoo and claimed it as one of its own.
-It is no accident that wine always comes in the same size bottle. The Department of Standards and Measures have decreed that, “all wine sold in the United States must be distributed in containers with liquid volume equivalent to that of a Frisbee”. Bring a disc to the dinner table and impress that date of yours. Class!
-Swirling your wine is not in any way pretentious; every swirl changes the flavor. For instance, twenty turns of the wrist get you licorice, while forty-two makes flounder.
-In 1982, a group of vintners’ gathered together in the garage of the drummer’s mom’s vineyard to form a band. And that band become none other than the incomparable UB40.
-There is no big secret to sounding knowledgeable. All you have to do is claim wine tastes like something else, preferably by taking the name of some type of food and adding a ‘-y’ to the end of it. If it’s red, say something like ‘peppery’, ‘jammy’, or ‘chocolatey’. Whites, try ‘mineraly’ or ‘citrusy’. Stay away from ‘winey’.
-The history of the red-white dichotomy began in 4th Century, when two rival families, headed by Manuel Gabriel de Rojo y Compostela and Jean-Pierre Cheninblanc, clashed. Brutal killings were a regular occurrence, often by corkscrew. Despite their families’ hatred, young Victor de Rojo y Compostela and Marie Cheninblanc shared an elicit love affair, out of which was born blush.
-Corks are meant to be eaten – high in fiber and Omega-3’s.