To whine or not to wine

You’re probably wondering about the title by now? My boys often enter magazine subscriptions for me as gifts. Recently, while looking through two of them, I decided to write about food and wine. While reading each one, I noticed how often items are a tiny bit on the ridiculous side.

In the 1970s my oldest son Don took extensive college classes about wine making when we lived in Fresno, Calif. To this day, he still swirls the wine in the glass, sniffs its’ “bouquet,” and then finally tastes the wine. If it’s not perfect, you’ll hear him “whine.”

As for myself, I taste it first and then try to figure things out. I seldom find reason to “whine about the wine.”

This October’s Sunset Magazine was primarily a “wine lovers guide.” There are stories about well-known vineyards in California, Oregon and down under in New Zealand, The most informative were about ones run by families. Too bad they didn’t research a little bit about Nevada. In my opinion, our Churchill Vineyard, run by the Frey family, produces some outstanding wines as well as some liquors.

Sunset discusses Francis Ford Coppola, “the bearded, bereted icon of American Cinema who was the man behind The Godfather and Apocalypse Now films.” In their article they tell about his vineyard, which he says, “Is his biggest hit, the one that most clearly articulates his passion.” A following article is about a lesser know winery, now run by Reynaldo Robledo, He left his home in Michoacán, Mexico and worked his way north to the small town of Alistoga.

It’s there where Reynaldo scratched out a living in others vineyards, earning as little as $1.10 an hour. He picked and pruned, planned and saved. Eventually he set aside enough money to buy a house, followed by a modest parcel he planted with vines. His vineyard now encompasses roughly 350 acres. His story, one of hard work and dedication, is an inspiration to those around him.

There’s also a story about Fallos, an interesting California winery, especially the interview with Gina the young woman who is the only woman in the magazine’s tasting panel. Following this is a wonderful article about vineyards in New Zealand. Of course they had to have pictures of people eating oysters while drinking wine. I’m one who enjoys a glass of wine and also use it in cooking.

However, I haven’t a clue about making a good glass of the “grape thing.” So what follows is tongue in cheek. I laugh because I’d like to have five separate wine specialists, in different rooms, each try the same type of wine and then see what each. Then I’d compare their results to one another. Here’s a sample of many reviews that I picked to share.

First. “An oak-driven, viscous wine balanced by exuberant apricot, peach, and Pippin apple fruit, plus spice and firm acidity. A great match for roast chicken and lobster risotto.” Second: There’s an attractive lemon-oil aroma and texture to this lightly wound wine that, while tasty now, is also a candidate for the cellar. Drink it now with any grilled white fish or shellfish.”

The review concludes its’ review of the wine with “Unabashedly hedonistic with extravagant caramel, hazelnut, vanilla, and crème Brule character to go with well-ripened apple, Asian pear, and white peach fruit in rich, rewarding layers.” There is much more, but you get the idea. Now to the second magazine. “Philadelphia,” and some of the remarks about restaurants. First: “The chef knows the canon he’s working with at this combination restaurant and jazz lounge.”

The review continues, “He hits all the right notes with Carolina shrimp laid over a perfect white cloud of lobster-infused grits, unbelievably good pickles, crab toasts sitting plainly on bare white plates, and crawfish fritters that walk the line between the New South trend and straight-up American fusion.” Second: “Go for the goat and when it arrives strip the nuggets from the skewers and run them through the bowl of heavily spiced peanuts.”

Finally: “A carefully crated beer list, and a menu full of things like watercress salad with pork cracklings, cassolette d’escargots, and rainbow trout stuffed with crab mousse, served over fennel-scented polenta.” Say what? Lastly, this magazine has an advertisement about a certain medication, and its’ common side effects, which seem to be worse than what is trying to be cured in the first place. So much for my magazine reading. It was very amusing

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at


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