Wine Spectator Carefully Avoids Sugar Question

IF you read yesterday’s post and comment you will see that the Wine Spectator is becoming a little touchy about their scoring system. You will also note two things.

Although I did not give the score for a “classic” as awarded by the Spectator – 95 Mr. Matthews tells us – I apparently implied St. Hallet had one. Far as I know they don’t, but I don’t worry about scores of classics.

Mr. Matthews does not address the notion that sweet “dry table wines” score higher in their system. This of course is what the last paragraphs of yesterday’s post says clearly and what the headline promises the article says. But possibly Mr. Matthews was so incensed by my spelling error he merely forgot to clarify the magazines position on this issue.

So to give Mr. Matthews and his magazine something to address:
– I think the Wine Spectator taste tests are about as scientific as the Pepsi Challenge. (IF you wish to dispute this claim I suggest you read articles posted in the AAWE Journal of Wine Economics.)
– I think that wines of high viscocity (i.e. “thick mouth-feel”) and high sugar content are prone to higher scores.

If the Wine Spectator wishes to claim their scores are more valid than the Pepsi Challenge they need to implement a tasting regimen similar to that employed by the IVDP.

Finally I apologize to all readers for my erratic spelling particularly with French. Alas I am nowhere near bilingual and it shows just about every time I use French terms and names in my column. I also avoid diacritical marks (e.g. e-acute) because they do not carry well across international operating systems. I also avoid apostrophes for this reason though I find that slightly annoying as a writer.

So to properly answer Mr. Matthews sneer I suggest the Wine Spectator research testing systems that depend on rigour beyond brown paper bags.002

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How to earn a “Classic” score from the Wine Spectator

Residual Sugar

Residual Sugar

Pictured on the right are four acuvin test strips for residual sugar.  

The top strip is Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2010, a wine of some repute. (15.5 by Jancis Robinson)  This particular version is low on Syrah, only 20%, which probably accounts for the slightly lowish score.  Robinson gave the ’11 a 16.

Ogier Heritages [corrected after comment see below], an inexpensive wine from a competent producer is next. 

Perrin Reserve another inexpensive and reliable Rhone is third. 

St. Hallet Gamekeeper’s is the bottom.

The color indicates the residual sugar levels.  Coudoulet had under 200 mg/L. Ogier maybe 600 to 700 mg/L.  Perrin Reserve about 500.  St. Hallet had between 1000 and 2000 mg. Three guesses which one scored a 91 from the ever so wise and sensitive palate of the International Wine Challenge Oct. 2013 [Corrected. See Below] …

If you want to be promoted by the WS better pick around 26 Brix and make sure your “dry red table wine” has as close as possible to half a teaspoon per bottle of sugar in it.  That way the typicity, terroir and finesse of the wine will be noticed by the blind tasting panel of the Spectator.

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Epitaph on a Friend

Epitaph on a Friend

An honest man here lies at rest,
The friend of man, the friend of truth,
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d;
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.

Robert Burns

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Personal update

My father died last night.  He loved flowers, and making things grow especially his family.  It may be a while before I post again.

Everyone reading this should buy a bottle of wine, costing more than you usually spend.  Open it with someone important to you, and salute them.

Life passes too quickly to leave things unsaid.

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Dark ‘n Stormy

darknstormy sm
If ever there was a day where a Dark ‘n Stormy was called for this is it.

The cocktail is a Bermudian invention made with a local non-alcoholic Ginger Beer, Barritt’s. The stuff is the real thing, a greenish cloudy intensly spicy ginger beer (or at least it was last time I had it. I’ve heard rumours since that they’re filtering the stuff now.) It has a real ginger kick that shows up ginger ale as a pale and tasteless imitation.

Of course a real Longtail makes her Dark ‘n Stormy with Gosling’s Rum, another local product still made by the family that started the firm back in the 1700s. It’s a great dark rum, although if you’re looking for a smooth sipping rum you’ll probably prefer a more upscale variety.

The real problem with a Dark ‘n Stormy is the ginger beer. Lacking a local product you are unlikely to find one as tasty as Barritt’s. But being in Saskatoon I’m unlikely to discover the stuff in the local StuporStore anytime soon.

Here’s a prairie variation that has a decent kick.

2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (or dark rum of choice)
2 oz Crabbies Orange Ginger Beer
Lime wedge (or lemon)
Highball glass filled with ice.

Crabbies is actually a pretty good alcoholic ginger beer, though I still lust for the real Barritt’s.

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