2nd Mar 2015
Ask Dr. Pinny! The Simpleton's Guide to Wine
by Ron Washam
Wine might be the most difficult beverage on Earth to enjoy properly. Coffee is easy. No matter what coffee “experts” tell you, coffee is all the same. It’s roasted beans, for God’s sake. Powder it and run hot water through it, and, bingo, it’s coffee. Essentially, coffee is human Drano. You don’t need anything to enjoy it, just open your trap and pour it down the drain. And beer is just beer. It’s not about complicated human enjoyment. No one worries about cellaring a great beer collection, or enjoying just the right beer with dinner. Beer and food go together like opera and pole dancing. You want a lot of each, just not on the same night. And it’s really over when the fat lady dances. Over the years, many of you have come here with questions for Dr. Pinny.
Q: I feel stupid asking questions of an imaginary cartoon character. What’s up with that? — Ted Geisel, Whoville
Dr Pinny: It was many years ago that we ran a contest to name our cartoon character who would answer your many questions about wine, and so many of you responded to us by writing “PINHEADS!” that we christened him Dr. Pinny. We made him a Doctor because that sounds more authoritative, even though no one here is actually a Doctor of Anything. We love to give ourselves fake credentials in the wine business. Hell, we give restaurants “Grand Awards,” we might as well make ourselves doctors. And, actually, it takes many pinheads to answer your questions. And a couple of editors to get the condescending tone right.
So we thought we’d compile a list of the most frequently asked questions in one place, create this guide for How to Enjoy Wine as a permanent reliquary for sinners to consult on their pilgrimage to wine truth. For wine, like life, isn’t really about enjoyment. Not without guidance. You need help understanding how to enjoy wine. Wine isn’t a blowjob. It costs more, and you need help enjoying it. And that’s what we’re here for. The wine, not the blowjob.
Q: Is a $500 wine that much better than a $15 wine? — Clark Smith, Vulcan
Dr Pinny: Yes, of course it is. All the wines that we rate are tasted blind. That means we don’t know what it is until after we remove the paper bag. This is the opposite of dating. We don’t know the price, though, believe us, it’s pretty damned easy to guess. Somehow writing the Dr. Pinny columns means we’re not tasting the Laube wines. Doesn’t take a genius to guess the prices of the leftovers. But there are many occasions when a bag is removed and we are surprised that we’ve given such a high score to such a pedestrian wine. You won’t see these scores, of course. We have to rebag the wine and let others score it until someone gets it right. We don’t just score wines haphazardly around here, pal — there are rules. Believe me, Clark, we’d love to say that there’s a $15 wine that deserves 95 points, but what sort of world would we live in if that were possible? You can’t buy results that cheaply. What are we? Soccer referees? So, yes, trust us when we tell you that a $500 wine is always better than a $15 wine. Lots of wine “experts” will tell you that the price of a wine doesn’t reflect its quality. We’re here to tell you, yeah, it does. Everyone knows this.
Q: I’m always afraid I’m not serving my wines properly. Do I need special glassware? Should I decant? Is an ascot a little much? What are the most important things to remember about serving wine for maximum enjoyment? — Raj Parr, Somalia
Dr Pinny: Those are a lot of questions, Raj, but important ones. So much of the enjoyment of wine depends upon serving it properly, just like your dominatrix. But let’s not bother talking about cheap wine. With cheap wine, it just doesn’t matter. You’ve already embarrassed yourself. Serving it at all diminishes you. Riedel won’t help, though I understand they’re working on a stemware prototype called, “I’m Just Really Sorry” that’s the perfect shape for cheap plonk. The shape of the bowl is teardrop. Let’s focus on fine wine.
First, you need a very expensive corkscrew. You cannot open great wine with a cheap, crappy corkscrew! Great wines are sensitive, they notice the corkscrew. Using a cheap corkscrew on a fine wine is like removing a supermodel’s clothes with a leaf blower. Sure, it gets the job done, but you look like a jackass doing it. You do not want your fine wine to think you’re a jackass. To be a serious wine lover, you need to invest in an expensive corkscrew. Your corkscrew should be just like that supermodel--nothing plastic, and it should have its own carrying case.
Nothing affects the enjoyment of wine more than the glassware. We can’t stress this enough. If you drink your First Growth Bordeaux out of a Burgundy glass it’s the equivalent of sucking foie gras directly from the goose—what are we, Neanderthals? The proper glass is essential to the enjoyment of wine. Oh, sure, maybe to get a cheap laugh pour your Zinfandel into a Pinot Noir stem. You get the same response as when you stick your forefinger out the zipper of your pants and wave it at a girl. A guaranteed huge laugh. But afterward, be sure and serve your Zinfandel in a Zinfandel glass. It’s one thing to use a pretend dick, but what you want is a real dick. Nothing better than specialized wine glasses for that. Decanting is something we are often asked about.
Decanting is something of a myth. Everyone says they do it, but they actually don’t. It’s the men-washing-their-hands-after-they-pee of the wine business. So when it comes to decanting, always say that you did it, and, in the event that there’s someone around watching you, be prepared to actually do it. But mostly, don’t bother. It doesn’t really do anything anyway.
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