Tuesday, May 31, 2005

NRW, a conspiracy unveiled

(Warning: This Post May Contain Sarcasm)

There is a grave and disturbing category of wine out there. Well, more accurately Wine that is ‘Not Really Wine’, or as those in the know refer to it, NRW. Certain wine writers and commentators have been trying to warn consumers but really we haven’t been heeding the warnings. I am going to lay out a short primer on this insidious conspiracy for you, just so you know, ‘Fore warned is fore armed’, as they say.

There is Wine, and then there is Not-Really-Wine (NRW). You have likely drank NRW, unknowingly, but fear not I will lead you through this minefield of deceit. It seems that what differentiates Wine from Not-Really-Wine is not whether or not it is fermented grape juice but rather other purely arbitrary and pretension laden factors. You will conclusively see that fermentation of grape juice is NO guarantee that something is actually wine. We will also learn how sheep’s bladders may be used to predict earth quakes, but more on that later.

We start with the anomaly: White Zinfandel. White Zinfandel is of course NRW. Yes it is fermented Zinfandel grape juice but it is made and stored in stainless steel and in high volumes, therefore it is truly NRW. Enough said, let us speak no more of this heresy.

Wine not aged in oak barrels is NRW. You see, you need wood to save wine from its own innate fruit character. Oak, preferably French Oak is needed to give the wine character Oh I know, you like your Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc but, sorry, it’s NRW. You can’t have wine that tastes TOO MUCH like fruit. That’s crazy talk. And oak chips and oak planks used to impart oak character, well, this is a PG rated blog, I can go only so far.

Wine that does not have a stopper made from cork is NRW but in some cases can be wine-like and in some cases excused. It is that shadowy almost wine category reserved for the non-Noble grape varietals. Sure, you can put a screw-top or synthetic cork on a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or some crazy Australian creation, red or white, because, well, you can’t make some wines any more ignoble. But put a screw-top on a DOC Burgundy or Bordeaux, that doesn’t make that wine NRW it makes you a freakin’ charlatan that’s what it makes you. And a bottle cap, that’s just ‘right out’. And you Lancers fan, sorry, NRW.

Anything that does not come in a bottle is NRW, although be warned, NRW can be bottled, see ‘White Zinfandel’. Anything sold in a box (mylar bag o’ wine) or can (Sophia Mini) is NRW. Fermented grape juice put in a bag is an abomination. Of course the Europeans introduced ‘wine in a box’ before it became popular in the U.S. but that is a dirty secret we won’t broach right now. Frankly, any non-bottle packaging is simply a flirtation with the Devil himself.

Now prepare yourselves, Champagne and sparkling wine made in the methode champenoise (we won't even deign to recognize sparkling wine NOT made in the methode champenoise) are Not Really Wine either. This is more insidious than making wine without wood aging, most people disregard how champagne is made. This is the bottle cap rule, anything that does not have a cork stopper is NRW. Of course after disgorgement champagne gets a cork stopper but it sits ‘sur lie’ closed with . . .a bottlecap. Therefore Champagne is NRW.

Well, that is enough for now, the mind can only accept so much misery and suffering in one dose.

**Short note on proper wine reviews. This is an example of a wine review from the Wine Expectorator, this red burgundy received a 98 RATING!!

"A brilliant red. Wild and feral, yet refined, combining cherry, mineral, licorice, ANIMAL, and underbrush notes with sweet, concentrated fruit and ripe, vibrant tannins. Shows an underlying energy, with a long, long finish. 45 cases imported."

Come on people! Could you write a more contradictory and confusing wine review. Feral and refined - What?? "Animal" notes, oh ok you mean it's BRETT contaminated?? And "underbrush", what kind of underbrush? resinous or non resinous? Ripe and vibrant tannins, as opposed to underripe and dull tannins, of course, that is perfect. I'm convinced that someone has developed a computer program the randomly generates absurd reviews.


Blogger Alder said...

Now THAT is what I call a rant, my friend. Nice one. However I can't disagree strongly enough. I had no idea that you leaned so hard towards traditionalism and the James Laube camp (notwithstanding your scorn for his tasting notes).

June 01, 2005 2:57 PM  
Blogger Huge said...

Pleeeaaaassseee, ME, a traditionalist? And in the LB camp??? Ooohhh now that hurts, deeply and profoundly.

No, I've just been travelling a bit lately and have heard some of the most absurd things uttered by people, and not consumers, people in the industry. I thought I might poke fun at them a bit.



June 01, 2005 3:04 PM  
Blogger Alder said...

Ah. Now if you had just had that sarcasm caveat on there when _I_ read it, I would have gotten it!

Sigh. Some things just go over my head too easily.

Nice one.

June 06, 2005 9:56 PM  

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