Sunday, July 24, 2011

Do All Corked Wines Go to Heaven? Samples from the Reader Mailbag

Well, it's been hot outside. So I've set aside some extra time to sit in the air conditioned comfort of the SYWTBAS? offices and page through the letters that have come in from the many readers of this blog. The volume of reader mail received is quite extensive, and I regret that I cannot answer each query in a timely fashion, but here are responses to some of the more recent correspondence, as well as the original note for context.

Dear So...Sommelier,
I am new to the world of wine, and I would like to get your opinion on a topic of special concern to me. The sommelier of the restaurant where I work has assured the staff that every time a bottle is drunk to the bottom, an angel gets its wings, and that we waitstaff owe it to those heavenly creatures to sell more wine, thus allowing for more angels ascending the heavens. But my question is, what happens to the corked wine? When a sommelier or manager or wine salesman pours a bottle of wine down the sink, does that wine also receive a Beatification? Or is corked wine a lost soul, hurtling towards a final resting place in the dark of city sewage? Our own sommelier has been hesitant to answer this question. Please help.
Devout in Detroit

Dear Devout in D,
I have it on good authority that the Divine is a keen collector of vintage wines (angels get thirsty from all that flying around), and that the powers of curing the ailment known as TCA extend far beyond the Saran Wrap trick. In fact, I have heard Biblical scholars state quite firmly that, as there are several known cases where leprous, crumbly 1947 Cheval Blanc corks have been miraculously restored to full health and good, auctionable condition, it would stand to reason that TCA is curable by an act of God. This is suffice to say that although those corked bottles may be poured down the temporal drain, certainly their final resting place is amongst their kin in that Great Cellar of the Clouds. So fear not for that corked bottle of DRC Montrachet. You will see it again before too long.
Yours in Good Faith,
Brother Levi

Dear Sir,
I read you blog almost every day, and greatly value your contributions to a better understanding of wine. There is a concept of "balance" in wine that I have seen you mention, yet I do not grasp what you are referring to. Would you please help me to understand what you mean by this term "balance"? Many thanks in advance!
Teetering in the Tetons

Dear Teetering in the Park,
I suspect that each of us has our own understanding of what properly constitutes a "balanced" wine, just as each of us has our own taste in clothing. And indeed, balance is most noticeable when it isn't there. However, I am reminded of the analogy of the full length mirror. If one should see a passerby on the street and wonder if, indeed, they have actually seen themselves in that ridiculous and clashing outfit, that would be akin to the wine that is harsh or at contretemps with itself. Clearly such a person or wine has not examined their own appearance. That is why you will always find a full length mirror in all the best wineries and chateau of Europe. The finest wines know themselves in their entirety, and from top to bottom. Of course, a good wine offers more than just good looks: there has to substance there as well or it would be a like Brendan Fraser movie and nobody goes to those.
Yours in Harmony,
Levi with an i

Dear Somnolescent Sommelier,
I have noticed you haven't written any new posts in awhile? What gives?
Haven't Read You Much Lately

Dear Have and Have Not,
Sorry, man. But in the words of two of my favorite wine professionals, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, it's "summer summer summertime, time to sit back and unwind". Hope you understand.
Levi from Bel Air

Dear Editorial Board at So you want to be a sommelier?,
Recently, I have gotten into Burgundy in a big way. Would you please help me understand why some Chardonnays taste like Burgundy, but others don't? Why is that? Why don't I get the Burgundy taste that I love from other areas of the world?
Caught up in Crus

Dear Tangled Up in Lieux,
I have often wondered about this myself! As best as I can ascertain, each time a Chardonnay is bottled, anywhere in the world, Bertrand Russell and Tori Spelling fire up the ColecoVision and engage in an epic game of Frogger to battle for the soul of the wine. Actually, I'm pretty sure Bertrand Russell plays Frogger and Tori Spelling goes at Super Ms. Pac-Man and then they compare High Scores afterwards.
If Bertrand wins, then Raveneau and Roulot.
If Tori wins, well, you know...
Another Lover of Burgundy that tastes like Burgundy

Dear Sommelier Answer Man,
Sir, I have read many times that Savagnin is somehow related to Gewurztraminer, and yet I just don't see the connection! Would you please help me to understand this? Thank you kindly.
Perplexed in Pennsylvania

Dear Roundabout,
Clearly you were never a Diff'rent Strokes fan. Any watcher of that show who also followed the life stories of the actors involved would understand how cute, cuddly and approachable can soon lead to strung out, angry, and tense. You tell me that you don't understand how Savagnin and Gewurztraminer could possibly be the same thing, and I ask you in response: "whatcha talkin 'bout?"
Levi Jackson

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