Thursday, May 27, 2010

The HoseMaster's Honest Guide to Grapes Volume 5

What is it that the average wine lover wants from a glossary of grape varieties? Now ask yourself, what does a below average wine lover want from a guide to grapes? Considering my audience, I've chosen to answer the latter question. He wants short sentences and easy to understand words, he wants opinions disguised as facts, he wants simpleminded opinions he can memorize and pretend are his own--in other words, he wants to be an average American. Well, friends, let's not aim too high. Let's speak to the Lowest Common Denominator. Let's aim at wine bloggers, the great democratizers of wine, the voice of the people, or, truly, the voice of the poodle, those truly generous souls who give of their copious free time, time that they would not have had they any actual friends or lives, to speak to us of their great love, their undying love, the love they cannot stop speaking of no matter how hard we wish they'd stop, their love for God's greatest gift. Themselves. Themselves in Wine and Music, themselves in ghastly photos, themselves in caftans, themselves in almighty Wordpress, holy Blogger, Not my Typepress. The HoseMaster's Guide to Grapes is dedicated to all of them. Volume Five returns to the land of white grape varieties. I'll speak slowly.


Gewurztraminer is the wine nobody reaches for when having a nice meal. Gewurztraminer is the first choice of sommeliers everywhere to be left off the by-the-glass list. Sure, we've got Gruner Veltliner, we've got Roussanne, we've got Arneis by the glass, but Gewurztraminer? Nah, that's for sissies. It smells like your grandmother's perfume if your grandmother was a hooker for SnoopDogg, or Hugh Grant. The most common descriptor for Gewurztraminer is "lychee," even though the vast majority of people using that adjective have never tasted lychee and think it's related to Tai Chi and smells like old Chinese people sweating. The only Gewurztraminer that sells is Navarro's Gewurztraminer from Mendocino and that's because it's actually Snapple not wine. But Gewurztraminer is considered to be a Noble Grape in Alsace, a region with notoriously low standards. Think of Alsace like the Wine Blog Awards, and then think of Gewurztraminer as the blog Bigger Than Your Head, and you get the idea. It's just the best they can do. Sure it sucks, but, hey, it's better than nothing. Gewurztraminer is like other people's personal lives--you don't mind sticking your nose in it, but you're sure as hell not taking it home with you.

Interesting facts about Gewurztraminer:

It's easy to pass a Breathalyzer test if you're drunk on Gewurztraminer, the machine thinks you're wearing too much after shave. The bad news? You have to get drunk on

Gewurztraminer means "spicy meatball" in German. In Italy, it's simply called Traminer, which means "I surrender."

Gewurztraminer is often the suggested pairing with Asian cuisines. Which makes sense if you think it's a good idea to pour oil on fire.

Other names for Gewurztraminer:

The G-Spot
Old Spice


Pronounced "semi-yawn," in actuality, it's a total yawn. In California, Semillon is often found in Sauvignon Blanc, as though it were a gerbil. In Bordeaux, it is one of the three white varieties allowed, making it one of the Three Muscadelles. It is also widely planted in Australia where it makes wines that are uniquely capable of embarrassing Australians, something even Olivia Newton-John had a hard time doing until she starred in "Grease." But it is in Sauternes where Semillon does its finest work. When it's covered in mold. Sort of like the great Chilean writer Roberto Bolano who gained most of his fame after he was dead. In Sauternes, Semillon is harvested covered with botrytis cinerea, nicknamed the Noble Mold because it was originally discovered between Ann Noble's toes. Semillon makes up about 80% of the blend in the amazing dessert wine of Chateau d'Yquem, the other 20% is the Euro. So here's the key to enjoying Semillion in a simple rhyme: If there's no rot/Drink it/NOT!

Interesting facts about Semillon:

It's often confused with Sensimilla, but only by those who smoke and inhale.

In double blind tastings, Semillon is often confused with the bottled water.

Australia is famous for its "Bottle Aged Semillons," so named because no one buys them. Except Olivia Newton-John.

Other names for Semillon:

Chateau Ygack


Most people believe Roussanne is the big, fat, ugly comedienne once married to big, fat, ugly Tom Arnold. Easy mistake to make. Both the grape and the comedienne are highly susceptible to powdery mildew and rot. But Roussanne is the big, fat, ugly grape of the Rhone Valley and was once married to John Alban, another tragic mistake. Actually, wines made from Roussanne tend to be rather delicate and elegant, like Elton John, only Roussanne ages well. Randall Grahm was one of the first to plant Roussanne in California, only it was Viognier that was in the witness protection program. Grahm finally admitted he'd been Condrieued. Roussanne has become a trendy white wine grape in California because it is difficult to grow and makes wines that other winemakers admire. The public hates it, which also makes it a popular choice for snooty winemakers. Roussanne is among the most ageworthy of white wines and dominates the cellars of people who want to leave worthless wines to their heirs.

Interesting facts about Roussanne:

The name is thought to derive from the French word "roux" which means "russet" and refers to the way the variety is about as interesting as potatoes.

In the Savoie region of France Roussanne is called Bergeron because it is about as interesting as Dan Berger, who is starchier than potatoes and as thin-skinned.

Roussanne in California is predominantly planted in the Central Coast where the powdery mildew leaves it alone in favor of the hicks who live in Paso Robles.

Other names for Roussanne:

Grahm is Crackers
Rosie O'Donnell
Roosanus (Australia)


Thomas said...

Ok, we need six more comments to make this one whole.

Samantha Dugan said...

Count me in...

Samantha Dugan said...

I fear this post will suffer from Middle Child Syndrome.

Samantha Dugan said...

I understand it and love it for what it is....

Your turn Thomas

Who's Counting Daddy said...


I'll take the over.

Besides "Grahm is crackers" is a great double entendre.

winebookgirl said...

This was my favorite line:
Grahm finally admitted he'd be Condrieued.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hah! I got the seventh spot.

It's nice that somebody liked two lines in my comprehensive piece. Man, I'm feeling very taken for granted. Now it's suddenly about how many comments, not what's in the comments. Great, quantity not quality.

I think I need a hiatus...

Over Daddy said...

Send money. I am eight.

And, Jose, you started this seven thing.

Samantha Dugan said...

Okay fine then, I will come back when I have something profound to say.
I'll miss you guys....

(Oh and word verification is perfect for me, Bacon)

Thomas said...

I refuse to cause comment inflation--do not read this comment.

Dave said...

Ron, you do realize that "hiatus" is an anagram SHITAU? I think that means taking a dump down under.

Tom, I think I saw Comment Inflation on the shelf next to Boner in a Can.



I think you forgot about the Montreal Canadiens' hockey star, Guy Wurstraminer. Alsatian born from the town of Weisenheim.
So many bloggers misspell "Semillon." This, then, begs the question: "Who Wants to Be a Semillionaire?"


Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Anon1!!!

Where the hell have you been? I've missed your elaborate puns and wit. Try not to stay away for so long. I know I'm uninspiring, but don't rub it in.

I once approached a table in my restaurant with a wine list and the gentleman at the table looked up at me and said, "Oh, you must be the Semillon." Of course, I was covered in mold, so maybe he had a point.

Welcome Home, My Friend!

Name Daddy said...

Dear Semillon--

Now, that is funny, and your new nickname--Senor Jose Semillon.


Hosemaster Sir,

I was on "hiatus" (iato in Italian and L├╝cke auf Deutsch.
If a Semillon or Sommelier is asleep on the job, does that change one's title to Som-nambulant? Moldy or not?
It appears as though Name Daddy has not been using the spit bucket this morning... ???
Meanwhile, Ms. Dugan's title would be "SAMmelier."


Marcia Macomber said...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, perfect post for a Friday after a week of Poodle-bashing. Luved it!

I think Anony1 gets the rimshots though in #15!

My word verif ("siverb") is both sentence structure and a varietal from Eastern Europe, no?

Thomas said...

This blog all of sudden is somelieu.