Is there anything more boring to read than wine reviews? OK, besides Jonathan Franzen. If wine itself were as boring as the average wine description, we’d all be drinking Nyquil to get high. Which makes a helluva Grasshopper, by the way. Wine critics assign numbers to give us a quick impression of how much they like or don’t like a wine, and then somehow manage to write a description to accompany it that is actually duller to read than the number. How the hell can you be duller than “89?” Yet Wine Spectator does it dozens of times each issue. And the descriptions are all interchangeable. If the descriptions got scrambled before the magazine went to press, how would anyone know? They don’t match the wines they belong to in the first place, what does it matter? And nobody, but the winemaker, reads them. Until they appear on a shelf talker at BevMo and then it’s the better alternative to speaking to one of the clowns that works there.
What if actual writers had been writing wine reviews all along? Aha! The damned premise finally appears. And none too soon.
Dorothy Parker on Zonin Prosecco (79 pts)
I was hoping the bubbles
Would subsume my troubles
But, alas, this Prosecco
Is frizzante dreck-o.
You’re better off drinking
A four dollar Chardonnay
Than mass produced urine
Men seldom make passes
At introduced gasses.
Edgar Allan Poe on Chateau Montus 2009 Madiran (94 pts)
It’s the darkness of Tannat I’m attracted to, the impenetrable and consuming blackness that reflects the human heart. It speaks of death, and pairs nicely with venison. The Tannat is evil with power, drenched in tongue-torturing tannins. It curls up in your mouth like Cerberus, preventing your palate from escaping its Hell. Will it age? The question is, will you? I’d give the wine six years in the cellar. Your death will come much sooner. You’ll both rest in a cold, damp place for a long time. One of you will be alive when you go in.
Raymond Chandler on Mount Eden 2007 Estate Chardonnay (95 pts)
You know the kind of wine I’m talking about. It’s the third bottle you’ve opened that night, and the first sip of it has you staring at your wife’s neck while you fondle the knife on your waiter’s corkscrew. The night is warm, and through your open windows you can hear the sound of the drunks gathered at the local wine bar. You promise yourself you’ll open your wife’s neck like a Master Sommelier, never setting her down on the tablecloth, if you hear the word “minerality” one more time from those brix dicks. And you’re drinking the kind of wine that makes you want to hear it. It’s a moment too late before you realize the words you just heard were “Min...nesota oak.” Damned wine geeks, now you’ll have to start dating again. Pair with oysters, but be careful with the knife.
Lenny Bruce on 2009 Bryant Family Cabernet Sauvignon (6 pts.)
I mean, who drinks this shit? You spend a year growing the Cabernet up on some fucking mountain in Napa Valley, pay a bunch of Mexicans to pick it, then spend another two years waiting for it to be ready. You know, I’m thinking, why does everything we get high on come from Mexicans? It’s like they’re a whole race of drug fairies. And why wait three years for a bottle of wine? Shit, you can get high on horse in a couple of minutes, and it’s cheaper than this stick-up-your-ass Cabernet. What do you eat with it? Your own vomit. What else?
William Faulkner on Lodi Zinfandel (82 pts)
I see it too now, the blood color, warm like the night, and I can smell it as well, the smell of the old barn burning, the barn where he’s hiding. That matchstick aroma, like the fulvous sulfur of our preacher’s Hell there to blacken us for eternity as it burns our sins into our skin, surrounding me now. I want to walk into the woods to escape, but I don’t know the terroir, it’s invisible to me, and apparently to the winemaker as well. Matchstick or not, I raise the liquid to my lips. I drink, and it transubstantiates, not into our Lord and Saviour, but into Oreo cookies, white surrounded by black. I remember who’s hiding in the barn.