Saturday, June 30, 2007
From the July 2, 2007 issue of The New Yorker. Click image to go to the original.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Better drinking through Snooth?
This has happened in the world of wine, too. While wine ratings used to be the exclusive domain of the professional critics at the Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and other publications (see links on the sidebar to the left), sites that feature ratings by amateurs are now popping up on the Web.
One of the most interesting of these is snooth, which uses user and publication ratings along with the company's own algorithims to not only rate wines but to actually make personalized suggestions based on individual preferences.
The way it works is this: You create an account, which takes just a few minutes. Then you rate at least five wines; based on your responses, snooth will then make recommendations on what other wines you might like. The more wines you rate, the more accurate the recommendations should become.
There's no charge to become a snooth member. The company intends to make money by partnering with wine merchants, both Internet-based and local, by pointing users to places that can provide them with the wines they want to buy.
Snooth is currently in beta, and is still in the process of being refined. It's fun and interesting to use, and has the potential to become a very useful tool for making wine-purchasing decisions. Go check it out.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Two (or Three) Buck Chuck Wins California Gold
Full results of the competition won't be released until July 12, but industry sources have confirmed that the much-maligned wine was the highest-scoring Chardonnay in a blind tasting by judges who reviewed wines without regard to price. In all, 3,029 California wines from 640 wineries were evaluated by 64 judges.
Charles Shaw wines are produced by the Bronco Wine Co., which is headed by Fred Franzia. The brand is distributed exclusively by Trader Joe's.
Wente was the only other double-gold winner of the 350 Chardonnays submitted for judging. The popular Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay won a silver medal in the competition.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Disney launches wine label
Bearing a stylized likeness of the movie's rattus primus, the wine will be distributed nationally by Costco. It will reportedly be a Chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France (that would make it a White Burgundy in French parlance) and will sell for $12.99.
Other Disney-licensed products aimed at adults include furniture, linens, a bed and bath collection, denim jeans, and bridal gowns. (Bridal gowns?)
Personally, I can hardly wait for the Cars-based line of auto accessories, and the Snow White-brand genetically-modified apples....
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Sebeka Cape Blend 2006
Sporting yet another critter label, Sebeka wines are adorned with the image of a Cheetah in full flight. There are two whites and three reds, but the pick of the litter is the Sebeka Cape Blend Shiraz-Pinotage 2006. It's easy to drink, with plenty of body and jammy fruit from the Shiraz and a distinctly smoky component on the nose and palate from the Pinotage. Attractively priced at $7, this is a good wine to take to a barbeque, particularly if there's going to be lamb on the grill.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Swish and swallow
Friday, June 22, 2007
THINGS TO DO (6/23 – 6/24)
Outside the Phoenix Theatre
Saturday, June 23
Brew-Ha-Ha is the Phoenix Theatre’s annual fundraiser, which features a selection of beer from area microbreweries (plus eatables from local microfooderies). Tickets (available in person, by phone and online) are $20 in advance, and $25 at the door. The event will take place from 3–7 PM outside the theater, on Park Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and St. Clair Street. Music will be provided by The Elect, 3 Miles High and The Alpha Primitives.
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Perry County Fairgrounds in Tell City, Indiana
Friday, June 22 – Sunday, June 24
Indiana has its share of oddball festivals, but Tell City’s Ironstock—which is essentially a three-day trade show for people who make haunted house props—may well take the prize. Starting Friday night at 5 PM, the Perry County 4H Fairgrounds will host such events as coffin races, a “Fatal Fashion Show,” a celebratory “Weasel Ball,” and helpful seminars that will help attendees motorize their fake corpses, build better cauldrons, and create more convincing dungeon stones out of lightweight foam. Adult admission is $20, and kids 12-17 pay $10. Kids under 12 can get in free, but will probably require a lifetime of therapy afterwards. For all the gory details, visit Ironstock’s website (the splash page of which features a pretty nifty “Woodstock” parody).
Web: http://www.theironkingdom.com/Ironstock and http://www.myspace.com/ironstock
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Saturday, June 23 – Sunday, June 24
Stop by the Eiteljorg Museum (500 West Washington Street) this weekend to view and buy original Native American art, from 140 different artists representing 60 different tribes. Other entertainment will include music both conventional (traditional dance from the Allegany River Indian Dancers, Iroquois) and unconventional (hip-hop from “Buggin’ Malone,” Oneida). Hours both days are from 10 AM to 5 PM. Admission for adults is $9 in advance, or $12 at the gate. For kids 11-17, it’s $5. Children 10 and under get in free. Advance tickets are available at Marsh supermarkets.
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Elephant Awareness Week
Saturday, June 23 – Sunday, July 1
At 11:30 AM Wednesday, smack in the middle of the awareness, the Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders will bathe the zoo’s elephants. Somewhere in there, there’s a very weird swimsuit calendar photo opportunity.
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Nature Holds My Camera
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Sunday, June 24 – Sunday, July 15
The IMA’s new exhibit, Nature Holds My Camera, is subtitled “The Video Art Of Sam Easterson.” And what is that video art? Well, basically, it’s Sam strapping cameras to every animal he can catch (armadillos, alligators, falcons, tarantulas, you name it), and then harvesting the resulting footage. This exhibit will serve as a retrospective of all the films Sam has made since 1998. As an extra added bonus, Sam has plunked a helmet-mounted video camera onto a local eastern mole, who I believe will be broadcasting from somewhere under the IMA grounds during the show. If you define art as something that gives you a different perspective on the world, I think this qualifies. The IMA is located at the intersection of 38th Street and Michigan Road. Admission is free for IMA members and children under 7. Otherwise, it’s $6 for adults, and $3 for kids 7 – 17. Hours are 11 AM – 5 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday; 11 AM – 9 PM on Thursday and Friday; and Noon to 5 PM on Sunday.
Web: http://www.natureholdsmycamera.com and http://www.ima-art.org
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Fountain Square Theater Roof
POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
This will be the second year for this annual tournament, wherein contestants climb atop the roof of 1105 Prospect Street to play rock-paper-scissors (aka “Rochambeau”) while the Roshambo Winery serves wine. Tickets for the tasting alone are $15 per person. Tickets for the tasting and the tournament are $25 per person. To reserve tickets, phone 317-686-6010, extension 2. To brush up on your R-P-S cultural history (and to learn more than you ever thought you’d know about side-blotched lizards), visit http://tinyurl.com/3ddttj NOTE 1: By the end of this month, the entire Fountain Square neighborhood will be a free wi-fi zone, which is good news for anybody with a laptop computer. NOTE 2: This event was originally scheduled for next Tuesday, but it’s now been postponed until further notice. Still, I like the idea of it so much that I can’t stand to take it out of this email. I’m clingy that way.
Phone: 317.686.6010 ext. 2
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LINKS NO ONE ASKED FOR
The Pie Of The Month Club is an indispensable site, which offers both reviews of pie-centric restaurants and handsomely-illustrated recipes for such seldom-sampled dessert items as Methodist Pie, Osgood Pie and Baptist Grasshopper Pie (don’t worry, Baptist grasshoppers, it’s not what you think).
If you’ve got an hour to spare, you can go watch an experimental TV movie created by Jim Henson in 1969, titled “The Cube”:
And if you like it enough to buy a DVD of it, you can do so at A Different City:
Thursday, June 21, 2007
WineCanine's official music video
Advisory: Contains graphic depictions of spilled wine....
Nugan Estate Durif 2004
Poured straight from the bottle, you might not think there's anything special about this wine. But give it half an hour in a decanter, and it will reward you with a big, rich nose of vanilla and dark chocolate. It's full and smooth on the palate, with more dark chocolate and ripe, dark berries. The spicy, 30-second finish leaves a lingering flavor of unsweetened baker's chocolate.
Even after decanting, the Nugan Durif has enough friendly tannins to stand up to whatever kind of steak you want to pair with it. In our case, it was grilled Porterhouses, and it was a perfect match.
A little history: The Durif grape was developed by François Durif, a French botanist at the University of Montpellier, during the late 19th century. While trying to develop a variety resistant to powdery mildew, he crossed the Syrah grape with the Peloursin variety. He succeeded in that, but the his new variety formed such tight bunches of grapes that it was more prone to rot in the climatic conditions of Rhône Valley.
However, it is well suited for the drier, sunnier climates of California and Australia. It has long been misidentified as "Petite Syrah," which is a smaller variety of the Syrah grape, and in fact the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms considers Durif and Petite Sirah (the name is spelled in various ways) to be the same grape for labeling purposes.
The History of Gastronomy
If you don't want to take a minute and a half to watch this little promotional video, just head on over to Kitchen Gardeners International. It's a great resource for recipes, gardening information, and links to other food-related sites.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
La Posta del Viñatero Angel Paulucci Vineyard Malbec 2005
The La Posta del Viñatero Angel Paulucci Vineyard Malbec 2005 is made of grapes harvested from a vineyard planted in 1970. They produce a rich, mellow, full-bodied wine with cinnamon and a little mint on the nose and a palate of plum and spice, followed by a long, dusty chocolate finish. Its moderate tannins would make it a good match for grilled lamb (in fact, that just now became the plan for Sunday's dinner).
"La Posta del Viñatero" translates to "The Tavern of the Vintner," depicted on the label as a place where tractors wait at the end of the day while their operators relax with some fermented juice of the fruits of their labors. A rustic lodge at the base of a mountain, it looks like a very pleasant place to be — and for just $17, you can join them in spirit....
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Cobblestone Grill gets new chef
Jones has been co-owner and chef at Island Café in Indianapolis, Coconut Cove Caribbean Bistro in Greenwood, and most recently the Decadent by Design Café in Fountain Square. She began her culinary career on Sanibel Island as a teenager, and later did an eight-week stint at the the Culinary Institute of America. She specializes in fresh seafood and Cuban dishes, and describes her style of cuisine as "Floribbean."
Rose wine sales in the pink
Nielsen reported that for the 52 weeks ending March 10 rosé table wines accounted for more than $9 million in sales in food, drug and liquor stores, up 45 percent from the previous year. In comparison, there was an overall eight percent increase for the table wine category. Twenty-eight new brands of rosé wines were introduced last year, Nielsen said.
The increase in acceptance of rosés has been promoted by the efforts of industry groups, including the Rosé Avengers and Producers. Rosé wines have also been featured as cover stories in both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Take your dog to work this Friday
Begun in 1999 by Pet Sitters International, Take Your Dog to Work Day always falls on the Friday following Fathers Day. The event allows employers to experience the value of pets in the workplace, and encourages pet adoptions from shelters, humane societies and rescue groups.
A 2006 survey by the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association indicated that one in five companies allows pets in the workplace. According to the survey, millions of employees feel that pets in the workplace lead to a more creative environment, decrease absenteeism, improve productivity and help co-workers get along better. (Yeah, well, "pets" is a nice, politically-correct word, but I'd say that DOGS improve productivity. Have you ever heard of anyone "working like a cat?")
My usual day job consists of staying on the sofa and protecting my house from meter readers and delivery drivers, but if you work in a restaurant and your dog can't make it on Friday, I'd be happy to help....
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Kendall-Jackson jumps from National to Olinger
This change in distributors will transfer a large chunk of business from the locally-owned NWS to Olinger and In Vie, which are divisions of the Dallas-based Glazer's Wholesale Drug Company, Inc. Kendall-Jackson's Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay is the top-selling Chard in the U.S., and the company's brand portfolio includes Arrowood, Byron, Calina, Cambria, Camelot, Cardinale, Dog House, Edmeades, Freemark Abbey, La Crema, Mariposa, Matanzas Creek, Murphy Goode, Pepi, Stonestreet, Tapiz, Tin Roof, Twin Fin, Villa Arceno, Wine Block and Yangarra Park. All told, K-J ships some four million cases of wine per year worldwide.
National suffered a similar blow last year, when Chateau Ste. Michelle moved its brand portfolio from NWS to Olinger / In Vie. In addition, NWS recently sold substantially all of the assets of NWS-Illinois to Glazer's Distributors of Illinois. NWS did retain distribution rights for various beer brands in Illinois, and certain other assets.
Despite the loss of K-J and Chateau Ste. Michelle, NWS retains a strong portfolio, including brands from Diageo, Moet Hennessey, Pernod Ricard, Future Brands, Centerra Wine Company, Brown-Forman, Foster's Wine Estates, Sebastiani Winery and Banfi, among others.
Friday, June 15, 2007
According to a story in The New York Times, Pixar's crew researched the film by dining at a number of Parisian restaurants (work, work, work!) and by consulting with chef Thomas Keller of Napa Valley's highly-esteemed restaurant, The French Laundry. Keller and other chefs also helped come up with a menu for the fictitious restaurant, the items on which are sure to make the typical theater fare of popcorn and Jujubes seem woefully inadequate. (If it plays at The Keystone Art Cinema moviegoers could at least enjoy a glass of wine instead of a jumbo-sized soft drink, but that's probably too much to hope for.)
Pixar's artists long ago figured out how to make animated toys, cars and other anthropomorphisized characters believable, but ran up against a new challenge in this project: Food. If rendered with too much detail, lettuce, bread and other familiar foodstuffs can apparently be a little disturbing when projected to wall-sized.
Ratatouille sounds like half of a perfect dinner-and-a-movie evening. But if the dishes portrayed are anywhere near as appealing as they sound – steamed pike with butter, braised fennel and heirloom potatoes, grilled petit filet mignon with oxtail and baby onion ragout topped with truffled bordelaise and shaved Perigord truffle – you'll probably want to eat first.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The first BLT of summer
This morning's breakfast was a treat -- two slices of whole-grain toast, a few generous dollops of mayonnaise, a few slices of crisp, meaty bacon, some crunchy lettuce and a stack of several thin slices of tomato, served on the deck with fresh coffee. The first crop of love apples is in, and life is good.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Simple summer supper
5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
rub of choice (Penzey's Fox Point Seasoning is mighty tasty)
Rinse chicken and pat dry. Apply thin coat of olive oil and sprinkle with rub. Place in refrigerator for half an hour or so to absorb flavors. Grill over medium heat for six minutes per side, turning once. Let rest a few minutes before serving.
2 large sweet onions
Remove outer layer of onion. Using a sharp knife, cut a cone-shaped hole in the top of each onion, taking care not to pierce all the way through it. Fill hole with balsamic vinegar and bake onions on covered grill over medium heat for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from heat, cut into quarters and serve.
handful of asparagus
thyme, fresh or dried
Snap bottoms of asparagus up to crisp point then coat with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme. Place directly on grill or in grill basket and cook over medium heat for five to eight minutes. Remove from grill and serve immediately.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Spicy Purple Cole Slaw with Fresh Mayonnaise
If you're concerned about making mayonnaise with raw eggs, consider this: The chance that an egg is contaminated with salmonella is one in 30,000. If those odds aren't good enough, you can further reduce risk by using locally-procured, high-quality fresh eggs produced by cage-free, organically fed chickens.
1 medium-sized purple cabbage, shredded
1 medium-sized green cabbage, shredded
2 cups shredded carrots
1 mango, diced
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 1/2 - 2 cups mayonnaise (see recipe below)
8 Tbs. mild vinegar
2 Tbs. curry powder
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
In large bowl, toss cabbage, carrots, mango, and onion. Sprinkle vinegar over all and toss again.
Add mayonnaise, curry powder, Tabasco, and salt and pepper. Toss again and adjust seasoning. Add sunflower seeds just before serving.
Credit where credit is due: the above recipe is based on one I found at Wired Berries. Theirs is prettier, too.
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne
4 Tbs. lemon juice (about two lemons worth)
2 cups light olive oil
Whisk first five ingredients together, along with 1/2 cup of the olive oil.
Transfer mixture to food processor or blender, and slowly add the rest of the oil, drop by drop or in a thin, slow stream. Be careful not to add the oil too fast; if you do you will end up with a soupy concoction and need to start over. (If you are using a Cuisinart, pour the oil into the food pusher while the machine is running and it will flow through the little hole in the bottom at the right rate.
Use immediately, or store covered in refrigerator for up to four days.
The Pines 1852 Satin White Blend 2006
Made by winemaker Peter Rosback of Sineann, this half-and-half Pinot Gris - Gewürztraminer blend opens with a soft, floral, pink grapefruit-scented nose followed by a lush, mouthfilling palate of peach, nutmeg and spices. The finish is smooth and clean.
Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and the marriage of these two grapes, as wedded by a skillful winemaker, achieves that. About the only wine I can think to compare this one to is Conundrum, a much more complicated blend with a devoted following. If a qualitative judgement as to which wine is "better" is required, I'll leave that to you — but if you like the one, chances are you'll like the other as well.
Satin is available at retail locations in Oregon and Indiana, and (if you live in an enlightened state) by Internet / mail order at about $16 per bottle.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Montes Cherub Rose of Syrah 2006
I guess she didn't like toads. Personally, I don't care much for cherubs — they just look like chubby little game birds to me — but I am a fan of Montes wines. The last couple of vintages of their Montes Alpha Syrah have been knockouts, so I had high hopes for their Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah 2006. And the Wine Enthusiast seemed to like it well enough: They gave it a 90-point rating and called it "one of the world's best rosés."
Label aside, I wasn't disappointed. The nose is delicate and pleasant, and the wine drenches all areas of the palate with flavors of raspberry and concentrated strawberries. A long, pleasant finish follows, with no trace of acidity or bitterness. At $15 a bottle it's among the higher-priced rosés, but in terms of satisfaction it's money well spent. This is a fun wine to drink!
Aurelio Montes is apparently a big fan of Ralph Steadman, who designed the Cherub label as well as the one for the Montes Folly Syrah. I like Steadman's work too, but it's usually a lot more edgy than this cherub, which is full-bodied yet light, not as serious as the Montes Alpha trademark angel, and deviod of any edginess — much like the wine, come to think of it....
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2006
This wine is fresh, clean and crisp, and filled with flavors of grapefruit and lime. It's medium-bodied, low in acidity and has a moderate alcohol level of 13 percent -- a good thing, because it's a very easy wine to drink.
It usually hits the shelf at just under $20 a bottle, but every now and then it goes on sale for about $15 -- when it does, stock up!
Friday, June 08, 2007
Veramonte Reserve Chardonnay 2005
A couple of days ago I opened a bottle of the $9 Veramonte Reserve Chardonnay 2005 and tried a glass of it. I tried to find nice things to say about it, but it was just too tart for me. So, the screwcap went back on (love those screwcaps!) and it returned to the fridge.
Just now I felt like a glass of wine before heading down to the Athenaeum for some weissbier and a wurst platter, so out came the Veramonte for another try. And guess what? My impressions tonight are a lot different than they were two days ago. Now it's not the least bit tart -- but it is crisp and light, with lemon custard on the nose, lemon and peaches on the palate, a nice tongue-coating mouthfeel and a clean finish.
I don't know whether it was me or the wine, but whatever changed over the past couple of days -- vive la différence! I'll definitely buy it again to continue the experiment.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Grilled Copper River Salmon and Asparagus
1 3/4 - 2 lbs. Copper River or other wild salmon filet
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1/8 tsp. chipotle powder
1 Tbs. capers, drained
20-24 spears fresh asparagus
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced thin
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 Tbs. thyme (approx.)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Mince garlic in small food processor. Add juice of one lemon, olive oil and chipotle and process into a fragrant slurry. Pour marinade into rectangular glass dish and place fish flesh side down on top of marinade. Rub a bit of the marinade on the skin side, and let sit for 30-45 minutes.
In the meantime, snap bottoms of asparagus up to crisp point then coat with olive oil and toss with thyme, onions and black pepper. Cook in grill basket over medium heat with lid closed for about 10-12 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.
Place salmon skin side down on grill, and pour any remaining marinade on flesh side, using a soft brush to distribute evenly. Cook over medium heat for about six minutes with lid closed, then unstick fish from grill with spatula. At this point the skin may separate from the fish, which is desirable. Close lid again and cook for another six minutes or until surface of fish is pink and not glassy.
Carefully remove fish from grill to platter and let rest. Put asparagus and onions back on grill for a few minutes to warm up, then arrange around salmon on platter. Pepper salmon to taste, and garnish with a generous tablespoon of capers. Serve immediately, accompanied by a good Pinot Noir or robust Rosé.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Cycles Gladiator Central Coast Merlot 2005
Monday, June 04, 2007
Dog Mondays at Cobblestone Grill
Throughout the summer and fall, well-mannered canines and their humans are welcome to dine on the Cobblestone's outdoor patio. Dog cookies and bowls of water will be available, as well as all the items on their menu.
Water and cookies are all well and good, but if it's not too much trouble I'd like a bowl of the Coriole Chenin Blanc that's on special, please....
A trip to BARcelona
Our reservations were for 7:30 p.m. We arrived about five minutes early, and were whisked immediately to our table for two in approximately the middle of the room, where we could watch the activity on Ohio Street through the open sets of French doors. Service was friendly and immediate, and we ordered two glasses of Sangria ($4 each) while we started to analyze the lengthy menu.
For our first round, we ordered Queso do Cabra al Horno, a baked goat cheese in tomato sauce served with fresh garlic toast, and Coliflor al Azafrán, roasted cauliflower with saffron, raisins and pinenuts. The goat cheese was creamy and delicious, and paired well with the glass of Las Brisas, a light white Sauvignon Blanc blend from the Rueda region of Spain. The cauliflower was good too, although the flavors of all the components stood alone instead of blending together.
Before our next round of tapas we ordered a Mojito and a glass of the excellent Sierra Cantabria Rioja. Then came our Alcachofas Fritas (fried artichokes with Romesco sauce), Plata de Embutidos (Spanish sausages) and Solomillo con Cabrales, slices of grilled beef tenderloin with blue cheese, spinach, and a Rioja reduction sauce. The artichokes and the tenderloin were outstanding, and we found ourselves wishing for a little bread to sop up the sauces. And while the sausages were robust and tasty, they paled in comparison to the other two dishes -- better to pair them with some simpler companions, like maybe the chilled garlic potato salad (Patatas Alioli).
We finished with a dessert of Churros, which are kind of like crispy linear doughnuts with just the right amount of sweetness. They made us wish we had ordered coffee -- next time we will!
And there definitely will be a next time. BARcelona has a nice atmosphere, good, interesting food, remarkably prompt service and an excellent, all-Spanish wine list. We liked this, too: Our total tab, before tip, came to just $66. Get together with some friends and go!
Northeast corner of Delaware and Ohio
317 638 8272
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Veramonte Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006
This is a nice Sauv Blanc that won't squirt you in the eye, stain your pants or make you wonder if it's time to change the kitty litter. And at just $9, it's a good thing to keep on hand for impromptu get-togethers on warm summer nights. (Keep some goat cheese and crackers on hand, too!)
Silly Tasting Notes Generator
Now a fellow named Greg Sumner -- who does have the technical expertise -- has done just that. Modeled on Wine Spectator reviews, the Silly Tasting Notes Generator spews out some wine descriptions that are very nearly plausible and often quite funny.
Even better, Sumner provides the code so those who are so inclined (that is, people who are wine geeks AND computer geeks -- you know who you are) can add their own descriptors.