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Fast Times with Fred Franzia

Mike Damone, misguided cool guy loser in the seminal 80s classic movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, had his Five Point Plan to Score with Girls (while alienating friends)Mikey1

1)  Never Let on How much you like a girl
2)  You always call the shots
3)  Act like wherever you are, that’s the place to be
4)  When ordering food, find out what she wants and then order for the both of you—it’s a classy move.
5)  Whenever you’re making out, play side 1 of Led Zepplin IV

Fred Franzia, wine impresario, and the separated at birth twin look alike to Lou Perlman, the impresario of boy bands N’Sync and Backstreet Boys, has a lot in common with Mr. Damone.  He’s a veritable quote machine with, assumingly, a Five Point Plan to Score with Wine Consumers (while alienating the rest of the industry).

Among recent gems, Franzia is quoted as saying,

Who gives you the best advice about your business?


Onhis release of a $4 wine from Napa Valley :

"We challenge anyone to have a blind tastingand see where our wines come out. We think we can run with the top dogs at$100-plus. There’s no wine worth more than 10 bucks a bottle." - FredFranzia, Bronco Wine Co.

Referring toretailers who charge too much for wine:

"greedy bastards,"

Alder at Vinography has a nice summary and a couple of recent article links.  You can find Alder’s post here.

And, just in case the future of wine, or at least Fred Franzia’s wine empire, had you concerned about your ability to find a value wine in the future, rest assured that he and the other two Franzia’s involved in the business have 13 kids—nine of whom are involved in the business, as well.


My Wine Radar is Blowing Up!

Radar ... Beep ... Beep ... Beep ... Beep ... my radar is officially going off.

I generally believe that the prevailing wisdom amongst the popular wine critics of the day is to make wine less intimidating.  Most every writer of any renown eschews the pomp (or at least tries to) and plays to an audience that might not be as in tune with the language of wine as they are.   Maybe sometimes its professorial, but there’s still an attempt to connect to a wide audience.

And, of course, sure there’s the occasional blowhard—a guy or gal so inebriated on their own faux gloriousness that they have lost touch with reality and their palate ... and I think I’ve run across him ... an idiot whose tasting notes are so egregious that he deserves to be called out. 

While doing research on a post on Wine Sediments, I came across the reviewer for the Las Vegas Review Journal.  I read his review.  I read it again.  I read a couple of other reviews ... and ... well, I thought, "This guy is so completely full of crap, I can’t believe he gets away with it."

My friends and I, when watching live music, refer to overly indulgentguitar solos and musical jams as sort of a self-satisfaction kind ofexercise because usually these types of things lose their lustre withthe audience long before the musician has tired of the masturbation. 

This wine reviewer does that as well—going into vain glorious detail that would make Parker swoon.

I won’t name him because we’re kind of gentlemanly here at the GoodGrape, but I sure will provide you a link to look at the folly and Isure will excerpt some of the b.s. below.

Here’s an example:

…raspberry sorbet and herbs de Provence.

Inthe mouth, the wine overwhelms the palate with rich forward crushed blackberries, including cassis, boysenberries, loganberries and a streak of the morerustic form of blueberries called huckleberries. The wine lingers on theafter-mouth for a full minute with yet creamier cassis and hints of licorice.

Raspberry sorbet? Being able to taste the difference between a boysenberry and aloganberry while delineating a wild blueberry?

Here’s another example:

…raspberry coulis, some licorice and intense notes of crushed black currant,with phenolic references and cedar box underlying.

Inthe mouth, there is serious upfront black fruit with cherry, brambleberry,sweet cranberry crush, raspberry jam and a multitude of flavors held togetherby great concentration and superb structure.

Raspberrycoulis? Crushed Black currant? Which is different from black currants intaste, how exactly? Sweet cranberrycrush?

And, here, as well:

…melted licorice molasses.

Other’s may disagree and say this guy has a super-phenomenal palate and really is able to identify the difference between a boysenberry and a loganberry  as a note in a wine made FROM GRAPES.  But, to me, the coup de grace here is, for the Gnarly Head Zinfandel, he picked up notes of "reductive fruit stew and beef jerky."

I’m calling b.s.

This clown is not only full of himself, he very well may be dangerous to the wine drinking public at-large.  How many, untold, countless people in the friendly community of Vegas have had their vigor for wine put off, delayed or stopped because of this guy’s alleged ability to pick up parts per 1000 notes of lemon verbena?

In most parts of the business world there’s the generally understood notion that as long as you say something with conviction others will believe it to be true.  Ahem.  I’m not buying this. 


The Fun Side of Wine

Dwr_schoolDwr_adirondackularI ran across a small blurb in the June issue of Gourmet magazine on Design Within Reach—a company in the Pottery Barn/Restoration Hardware/West Elm niche that sells modern furniture and home goods via a catalogue.They have a genius contest that entails readers creating a chair out of the cork, wire and/or foil using no more than two champagne bottles.  A couple of the more clever ones are above, and the full results are here with pictures.

I recently referenced a new book that was coming off press thathighlighted the interesting, odd and esoteric in wine labels.Oldgit_1

Mycuriosity piqued, I ordered the book. It is not supposed to be off press until June 1, but Ireceived my copy last week and another reader indicated that he saw it at aBorder’s several weeks ago.  So, it’s available now and on Amazon, where I purchased it.

Nonetheless,it’s a small, charming book with full color pictures.  It’s probably best leftas a stocking stuffer or add-on birthday gift for the wine lover in yourfamily, though.  A couple of the interesting ones are:

Old Git (pictured at left) was renamed "Old Fart" for the American market.  A decided improvement, no doubt.

Another curious wine label is called Frog’s Piss.  A skewering by the English against the French and their predilection for Frog leg’s, this is a cheap table red.



Racing & Wine at Wine Sediments

Wellfed_1 I have a post on the Wine Sediments portion of the Well Fed network. You can find it here.

If have haven’t been reading this blog site, you should be.  It has unique content, interesting perspectives and everybody that writes for the site, except for me, is a wine professional in some capacity.

So, that’s motivation to bring your "A" game when writing about a topic or coming up with a unique take on a common wine related issue.

The other good thing is I can completely be psuedo-columnist and vaccillate and ride the fence on issues from week to week—which is fun.

This week, I write about wine and the Indianapolis 500.  Mario Andretti, a former winner, and perennial runner-up owns a winery that makes some good vino and both his son and grandson drove in the race this weekend—Marco being beaten at the very last moment in a very exciting finish.

Check out the post and let me know what you think. 


Wine, Sangria and BBQ:  Turning Late Nights into Early Mornings for Decades


Folkseverywhere will be firing up the barbecue this weekend for the first of theholy trinity of summer holidays.

Dependingon the food type, I think you really can’t go wrong with a wine trifecta ofZinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and a Rośe.

TheZin’s can take care of the steaks and bbq, the Sav. Blanc can handle thegrilled vegetables and fish and a nice Rośe can really bridge the two.

Evenwith White Zinfandel sales dwindling, Rośe sales are picking up with somevigor.

Anda Rośe by any other name really, to borrow from Shakespeare, is a White Zin,but with two different target markets.

WhenRośe is featured in Food & Wine magazine and Martha Stewart Living as theyboth are this month, you know that the demographic is probably skewing a littlebit closer to your preferred wine consumers then the average White Zin which isconsumed by more casual drinkers.

JaimeGoode, from his site Wine Anorak, had this nugget on Rośe, the rest of thearticle can be found here.

Just a note on how rosé wines are made. Red grapesare crushed and only brief contact is allowed between the skins (which containthe coloured pigments and tannins) and the juice (which comes from thecolourless flesh of the grape). [I should add here, that there are some rarered grapes which have pigmented flesh, called teinturier varieties, butthis is the exception. These cannot by definition be used to make rose.] It isthe degree of the contact between the skins and the juice that determines thefinal colour of the wine. Thus rosé wines lack both the deep colour and thetannic structure of red wines made from the same grape varieties, and in thissense are more like white wines, and are best served very cold. It is also rareto find rose wines subjected to oak treatment.

The other aspect of wine consumption that isgrowing rapidly, especially amongst younger drinkers, is Sangria.

I attribute this to the re-awakening of awareness to the Spanish wine industry. And, RealSangria, isBarbecue_1 packaged with a “never went out of style” retro labeling. Spain, of course, is credited with creatingsangria—specifically the Andalucia region, where it is kind of the officialdrink of the region, the southernmost part of Spain.

Sangria, in general, is a wine-ish, citrusy spritzer;it’s a refreshing and sluggable drink that my wife can put away by the halfgallon.

Here at the Good Grape household, we’re not big onthe wine/food blogging aspect, leaving that to folks that really are morecommitted and better cooks than my bride or me. But, because she does do a really nice sangria, I’m including therecipe here.

And, her preferred version is with a WhiteZinfandel. Ahem. If you, mr./mrs wine consumer prefer to usea White Zinfandel because it’s at least $6 cheaper, I promise not to tell.

Basic Red Sangria

1 orange

1 apple

1 lemon

1 cinnamon stick or a dash of ground cinnamon

1 C sugar

1 C brandy

1.5 liters of the cheapest Cab you can find.

Wash and slice fruit. Put it into a big pitcher with the sugar and cinnamon, then add the and wine. Refrigerate overnight, then addbrandy. Serve over ice in oversized goblets, diluted (about 1/2) withsomething carbonated. Some people use soda water, but I like diet Cherry7-up. If you want to be "authentic" use Fanta! And make sure everyonegets fruit.

These white and pink variations are basically the same as the red.It’s always a cup of sugar, 3 fruits, and 1.5 liters (or 2 bottles ifthat’s what you’ve got) of wine. The brandy only goes into the redversion. I always use Diet Cherry 7up.

White sangria is the same recipe (sans brandy) as red, but youshould use a dry wine and 1 peach or nectarine, 1 lemon, and strawberries. Skipthe cinnamon on this one.

My absolute favorite way to make sangria is to use white zin withoranges, apples, and maraschino cherries. Use the cherry juice to make it"dirty" and don’t skimp on the cinnamon.

Enjoy the weekend. Drinksome wine. Grill some food. Hang out with friends and family and hold ontight. Summer blows by quickly andfootball season and harvest will be here as quick as you can recall how closeValentine’s day seems.



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