The focus is red wine and to get right to it without distraction, click The Wine Commonsewer Speaks. The rest of the enchilada is just enough of an
eclectic mix of commentary on culture, food, tax, and econ 101 to
distract from the focus on red wine.
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750 guys, armed with a few handguns, some home-made grenades, rifles, and handful of automatic weapons stunned the Nazi troops, forcing the Germans to retreat beyond the ghetto wall. Unfortunately, 60,000 unarmed people are no match for a well trained army, and it was only a matter of weeks before the entire ghetto was destroyed and the inhabitants forced into concentration camps. History might have taken a different course if the people were armed like we Americans are. At least they would have had more than a snowball's chance in hell.
Revisiting premature IRA/401(k) distributions. Don't take the money without careful consideration. I just completed a tax return for a middle class working couple with one kid. In 2012 they took a distribution from a 401(k) plan. The effective, combined marginal tax rate on that distribution was 50.3%.
In English: the distribution pushed them into the highest tax brackets and they lost half of their distribution to taxes and penalties.
For those who don't know, TWC is a tax guy in real life.
Lodi, which historically has been home to the jug wine end of the wine business, is scorching hot all summer long. It ain't the desert, but close you eyes and it could be mistaken for Lungcancer, Ca. Recently my friend and actual wine connoisseur, The Kos Man, wondered aloud if it was possible to produce decent red wine from grapes grown in such blistering heat. The answer is: sometimes.
The Maggio Family Zin is big and, in low light, appears to be almost black in the glass. The wine features the aroma of black fruit. It is very dry, smokey, smooth, and lingers on the palate. Best of all, it is not over-oaked. Way too many purveyors of modern zinfandel dump oak chips into the tank to paper over a lesser quality wine. Wine should not taste like McCormicks vanilla extract, which is how vast quantities of oak affect the flavor of wine. Leave that for the ice cream, guys. Please.
There isn't any particular hard and fast rule as to what an old or ancient vine Zinfandel really is, but typically these vines are fifty-plus years old. Zinfandel is a historic grape in California and is thought to have originated in Croatia, where it is referred to as Little Blue. The primary difference between old Zinfandel vines and young Zinfandel wines is the quantity of fruit produced. Old vines tend to produce fewer, smaller berries that provide intense flavor. Young vines produce fruit that is more suitable for White Zinfandel, which was marketed to to Baby Boomers who were weaned on Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill. White Zinfandel, which is actually sweetish, pink wine, is the wine that made Beringer a powerhouse in the business.
The Maggio Family Zin is a dang good wine at a very good price. You should be able to find it in the $8.00-$10.00 range. I like it a little better than Bogle's Zin and the Maggio blows the doors off of the ever-popular Seven Deadly Zins, whose popularity is proof that kitsch marketing sometimes works.
Pair the wine with smoked meats and cheeses or a nicely grilled steak.
Years before TWC's vagrant yoot, when he was but a wee lad, we had family friends that were turkey ranchers. The Patriarch
spoke with a heavy Irish brogue that may as well have been a foreign language
as it was entirely unintelligible to me.
McCourt's book a few years ago, I was reminded that Old Man Porter once told me that, after the Big War, a prosperous Irish family owned two bicycles. That pearl was entirely lost on me at the time.
I loved his 1959 Cadillac with the
bullet taillights, the 1959 El Camino with the 348, and the turkey egg
that invariably found its way home with me after every visit. For the
uninitiated, turkey eggs are pretty much chicken eggs on a Barry Bonds diet. Nothing
exotic, they're just big. Fry them over-medium with a little butter, salt and pepper and serve with bacon, toast, and cold milk.
American St Patrick’s Day celebrations date back at least three hundred years and like so much else that makes this America, we have embraced this Irish festivity in a style that is uniquely ours. Shamrocks, leprechauns, green beer, green hair, a green river, and a lot of racket, which is old-country Irish slang for
an old fashioned welcome-to-the-neighborhood party.
But in Ireland today it’s a softer and more subdued festival that often begins with a morning church service. Despite Ireland’s hard drinking reputation, as recently as thirty years ago most pubs were closed on St Paddy's Day in honor of this religious holiday. Even today the pubs are open mainly to serve the tourist trade arriving to celebrate a real Irish St Patrick’s Day.
We’re all Irish today—or maybe just a secular Americanized version of
what we imagine being Irish to be.
The Wine O’Commonsewer
Full Disclosure: TWC has a fair amount of Irish blood but
it's the Dutch that makes him hard headed. My kids are from a mongrel heritage that includes Irish from all four sides as well as Dutch, Indian (feather not dot), Black German, English, Scottish, and Welsh.
Walter Wellman was the Smiling Irishman who offered the World's Greatest Car Bargains. Walter was The Workingman's Friend and he'll give you a Square Deal. Can't get much squarer than a fifty dollar car ($425.00 in 2012). Beats a fifty dollar Pepsi, hands down.
Taken from a 35mm Kodachrome transparency, the photo dates to 1952 and the Smiling Irishman's used car lot was located in the 2400 block of Pico Boulevard near South Vermont in Los Angeles.
The pre-war era mechanical Acme (yes, Acme) stop signal is intriguing. Hard to find it, but it
sits just to the right of the fire plug. Here's what it looked like and how it worked:
The 2004 Arns Cabernet is what I expect Napa cabs to taste like. This is a brilliant presentation of Cabernet Sauvignon and I'm really not clear as to why Parker and Spectator would offer up a stingy 87. It just shows to go that you can't always rely on the opinions of others. Yes I know that those guys consider an 87 rating to be a good wine. But, I don't think they mean it. Take a look at some of the other wines that have garnered an 87 and you'll see where I'm going with this.
For those who don't know, estate grown means that all the grapes that went into the bottle were grown on Arns 160 acre property, most of which is not cultivated. As an aside, the stone caves at the old Christian Brothers winery, now home to the Culinary Institute of America, were constructed from stone that was quarried on the Arns estate.
I've a soft spot in my heart for Brother Timothy's old time Christian Brothers cabernet because it was the first good red wine I'd enjoyed. For some, a taste for red wine is acquired. For moi, it was colpo di fulmine, described best by J.M. Darhower.....
Colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as Italians call it. When
love strikes someone like lightning, so powerful and intense it can’t be
denied. It’s beautiful and messy, cracking a chest open and spilling their soul out for the
world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there’s no going back from it.
Once the thunderbolt hits, your life is irrevocably changed.
The Arns is a lovely Old World style wine. Bone dry. Very integrated. I did not taste the wine when it was young, but nine years into the process, it is mature, an earthy wine with hints of leather and smoke. No big fruit, but some black currants and plums left behind. Very nice on the palate with a smooth, long finish. One of those wines that leaves one a bit sorrowful when the bottle is empty.
This wine is outstanding with standing rib roast, or any grilled steak. The Boy and I were bachin' it a couple of weeks ago and I grilled us some tri-tips over mesquite with veggies & horseradish. Horseradish is as amazing with tri-tip as it is with prime rib. The veggies: grilled yellow squash, asparagus, and New Mexico Big Jim Peppers. Truth is, I couldn't interest Jacob in the veggies. OK, he tried the yella squish and didn't gag. Teen-age boys want meat. The palate is less developed than it one day will be, yet he's moving in the right direction.
At fifty bucks, you may want to save the Arns for a special occasion. This one is also difficult to peg on the TWC price/value scale because it is an awesome wine. True enough, there are less expensive wines that are as good. But the Arns really is priced well with respect to the cost of premium Napa cabs. I've enjoyed a considerable number of high dollar Napa cabs that couldn't touch this wine, despite costing more than a full tank of petrol for the politically incorrect truck that's made in America.