Webderland Wine Seminar

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Anthony Ravenscroft
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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby Anthony Ravenscroft » Wed May 04, 2011 10:15 pm

Retsina is definitely one of them "acquired tastes." Most of 'em that I've got near smelled like some sort of varnish to me, so there's no way I could've actually sipped -- do enough woodworking & the reflex is burned in. But I have the same reaction to most gins & more than a few single-malts.

I wish I had a proper house to host a get-together -- the public meetings could come later, though a hotel venue makes it easier to get sponsorship. An excuse to get together over canapes & try to impress each other with our discoveries.

While I'm thinking of it: some years ago when merlot was still struggling upward, there was a mid-price label that claimed one of its flavors was tobacco seed; I think it also had vanilla & black cherry notes, but don't quote me. I only tried it once, recall thinking it was nice as a special-purpose wine, maybe a bit complex -- too much for venison or buffalo but not really a stand-alone sipper. Then it was gone, & I promptly forgot the bottler. Does the tobacco ring any bells with anyone?

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David Loftus
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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby David Loftus » Mon May 30, 2011 5:51 pm

Here's what I thought of the retsina I encountered in Greece:

"Another strong alcoholic beverage is retsina, which is on the very sweet side and did not appeal much to me. One homemade version I had in a taverna in Meteora (in the central mountains) had an odd aftertaste I can only liken to the smell of fish aquarium water.

My entire commentary on various Greek spirits may be found here:

http://www.david-loftus.com/Essays/greece3.html


By the way, I spent the better part of the hour today in the cookbook aisles of Powell's, watching Peggy hunt for choice titles she'd had recommended to her. Now and then Doug and I would break away to visit the mysteries, or drama section, or Rare Book Room.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby David Silver » Mon May 30, 2011 8:20 pm

Interesting comments on retsina, but there's a bit of misunderstanding.

I'm Greek (I'll tell y'all about how I got the Jewish name some other time...), and I grew up drinking my share of retsina, both traditional white and occasional blush. It's not always sweet. Depends on the grapes (and therefore the sugar content plus any added sweetening dosage), and the prevalent diet the wine is meant to complement. The coastal and island Greeks, and the Athenians in particular, prefer sweet to complement a diet that is usually more varied and cosmopolitan and savory. The mountain or "hillbilly" Greeks prefer dry to complement a diet that is less varied, more "country", and somewhat bland by comparison. In either case, you have to understand, retsina is NOT intended to be a fine wine to stand on its own. It's the "water" with your meal, or an ideal cooler in the taverna after a long hot day, with the added feature that it does indeed have a way of cleaning the pallet and increasing the earthy goodness of Greek food. Many Greeks make their own wine, and it is far more often very flavorful yet not terribly complex red varieties. The issue in Greece is not the knowledge or ability or even the desire to make high quality wines, but the lack of high quality grapes and vineyards. The right soil and climate for the best grapes is spotty at best across Greece. Trust me, they like their alcohol, but not in the way you might think, and therefore they don't make the same sort of effort...

Ouzo is the thing I always thought was an acquired taste, and I never acquired it. The anise flavor is sickeningly sweet to me, but it's supposed to be the perfect complement to Greek finger foods and most especially shell fish. My family is of the "hillbilly Greek" persuasion, and the tradition there is that ouzo was the "woman's drink". It was in America they originally began serving it chilled and on ice, a concept that spread quickly back to the old country, and claiming it a cooler on hot days or a "lounge" drink. My experience, the Greek men never shied away from drinking ouzo on any occasion, but if there was plenty of retsina or anything else similar available, that's what they usually went for instead. David, you mention raki as well, but in Greece that's basically ouzo without the anise. Either way, for a drink that's effectively sweet, people are usually shocked at how it burns the first time they try it.

If you want to talk quality Greek sipping action, Metaxa brandy is quite the experience. It comes in several grades indicated by a number of stars according to how long it is aged. Avoid 3 star altogether, too sweet for a quality brandy and not aged enough to graduate beyond potential varnish remover. I've had a lot of 5 star over the years, which is a bit drier and more complex, plus it's the easiest to find, but avoid it until you understand what Metaxa SHOULD be. Jump to 7 star, very flavorful and much complexity, or if you have a really good booze source you might even find 12 star, which is a top tier brandy for certain, very dry because there was never a need for additional wine dosage. Extremely expensive and hard to find is "Grand Reserve" Metaxa, the highest grade that has won awards all over the world since the drink was introduced in the 1890's I think. Note that Metaxa is capitalized, since it is a specific brand, while retsina and ouzo and raki are lower case because they are general types of booze.

Hmmm, feeling thirsty all of a sudden...
We don't stop playing because we grow old.
We grow old because we stop playing.

-- George Bernard Shaw

Anthony Ravenscroft
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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby Anthony Ravenscroft » Tue May 31, 2011 10:24 pm

Yeah, ouzo is definitely on my "once in every third blue moon" sipper -- when I crave a taste it's heaven, otherwise it's overwhelming. Now that you mention it, this strikes me as odd, as I easily enjoy straight-up green Chartreuse (though merely tolerate modern absinthe) & even Campari. :shock:

I know that retsina is basically a wine, but it's definitely been resinated, hence my impression that it has a varnish smell.

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FrankChurch
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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby FrankChurch » Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:24 am

Haven't had the guts to try Absinthe. I want to meet Edgar Poe, just not right now.

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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby Anthony Ravenscroft » Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:33 am

Absinthe got a hugely bad rep because it was in such high demand that a bootleg industry flourished. To get that lovely green color, the fakes often used salts of various metals, like chromium & lead. :shock: For some reason, Absinthe never got the same level of government protection as did Chartreuse, instead campaigning against all forms of the spirit, legal & ersatz alike.

According to Wikipedia, it was popular in New Orleans with luminaries "including Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Franklin Roosevelt, Aleister Crowley and Frank Sinatra." Crowley once referred to an Absinthe-based drink he favoured on Bourbon Street (including a drop of ether!), calling it "the green-fanged fairy." (The idea of Crowley, Wilde, FDR, Twain, & Sinatra meeting at the bar tickles me endlessly -- anyone want to write THAT story?)

The modern Absinthe has (for me) too much anise & fennel. (btw, I mention it on this thread because the better "eau de vie" Absinthe derives from white grape.) Drizzling it over sugar is just overkill, like sprinkling sugar on angelfood cake. So when I was offered Chartreuse for the first time I was hesitant, but even straight-up it's delightful. (Turns out it's been adored by Hunter Thompson & Spike Spiegel, both heroes of mine.)

Now if you want to REALLY impress others:
http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/P-3207.aspx
Surprisingly good price, & the turned-wood box is unique. More impressive than Angostura bitters...

I might have to try the berry liquers:
http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/B-343-Chartreuse.aspx

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby Ezra Lb. » Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:48 pm

Just curious.

What are the laws like when ordering spirits over the internet?
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby Moderator » Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:24 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:Just curious.

What are the laws like when ordering spirits over the internet?


They're usually posted, but in general there are almost as many as there are states. Virginia may have become a Reciprocal state, which means if your instate producers can ship somewhere, that somewhere can ship to you.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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FinderDoug
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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby FinderDoug » Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:58 pm

Older article for reference concerning wine shipping (2005) with by-state breakout:

http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature ... State_1049

Current shipping chart for Bourbon Street Wine and Spirits (which probably has the necessary permits in place for ease-of-web operations):

http://www.bourbonstreetwineandspirits. ... &mv_pc=876

What I find fascinating, at least in the WS article, is the law for Maryland; the most you can personally import into the state at one time is a QUART? With a 2 quart per month maximum? So technically, it sounds like it's a felony to carry in two bottles of wine from DC or Virginia in a singe trip (I mean, this would constitute personal import, no?)

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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby cynic » Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:06 pm

by your description it sounds like it.
could be a law prompted by protection of local buisness, tax base, moral reasons...

of course the spirit of the law ... :lol: nevermind
follow your bliss,mike

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FinderDoug
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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby FinderDoug » Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:33 pm

As I recall - been a while since I lived there - Maryland does not allow beer and wine sales in supermarkets, and uses liquor stores for all alcohol, including beer (I remember having to go to the liquor store for beer when I lived in Rockville); also, Maryland runs a lot of the show themselves. In Montgomery County, the Liquor Control Board operates 25 stores for retail sales, for example. And the tax rate on alcoholic beverages is going up to 9% in July.

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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby cynic » Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:50 pm

liquor laws are varied and wide
my first time on daytona beach , '70 ?, we drove the streets with open drinks on the dash, legaly.
was it ohio i went to drive-thru liquor stores ('early '80s)? There's a great idea.
in kentucky(?), i found eateries and lodging coming into town. getting gas, i asked an attendant where i could get a beer. "Oh, this town's dry" was the initial response. Then a four or five minute debate ensued , among a few locals, as to the closest, cheapest or best selection over the border to illinois/missouri.
follow your bliss,mike

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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby cynic » Sun Jun 05, 2011 10:12 pm

darn memory lane :x
people jump the darndest hoops for a drink.
outside charleston s.c., there was a weekend, or after 7 liscense law or some such; only "private clubs" could serve liquor.
only private club i was ever a member of, or would likely have been allowed membership.
i think the membership was just the one night. :roll:
follow your bliss,mike

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FrankChurch
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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby FrankChurch » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:20 pm

Holy shit, didn't know that about Maryland. That sounds like some law from Utah.

Ironically they sell cigs, which kill with more deadly intent.

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Re: Webderland Wine Seminar

Postby Moderator » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:31 pm

K. Here's the official chart for the Wine Institute

http://www.wineinstitute.org/initiatives/stateshippinglaws

Maryland is showing "Direct Shipping Prohibited".

Apologies, I thought Ezra lived in Virginia.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.


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