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The Brown Bag

Throw wine in a stinky trash heap? We think not


In Brown Bag, we like to feature comments and suggestions passed on from you, the budding wine fanatics. We publish the letters that are relevant to other readers, such as those that mention wines you enjoyed, interesting questions and cool stuff you've encountered.

Sometimes it even gets amusing. Back in January, Jake called us "whiny slops" for our column on dodging rip-off restaurant wine prices by bringing your own wine ("BYOW," Jan. 2): Obviously you've never actually worked in a restaurant or maintained an inventory of wine. Sure it might be $8 retail, but do you know where all that cost is going besides the insurance it takes to have the privilege to open it? I am a 15-year veteran on both sides, a wine/liquor salesman and a waiter. I am revered for my mass knowledge and willingness to share. I covet wine as an "art" and demand that it is appreciated. Your article throws it in a stinky trash heap in the alley.

This is what we non-snobs rally against: egoistic "revered" people who are paid to perpetuate the wine mystique. Last time I checked, wine was a beverage, not a religious icon or an art form. And, most of the time, restaurants do parade rip-off wine prices. A mark up of three times over cost is outrageous (no matter what the insurance cost), so wine ends up on a pedestal of over-inflated prices, driving people to drink beer and liquor. Come on restaurant owners, not only do you perpetuate wine elitism, you discourage newbie wine drinkers from exploring.

Robin wrote: I read your wine column every week. A friend of mine who is knowledgeable about wines mentioned something the other day about a Parker rating for a wine. ... What is a Parker rating for a wine?

Robert Parker is a fascinating, very influential American wine critic who writes a bi-monthly newsletter called The Wine Advocate. There are differing opinions of his reviews, but he is unquestionably skilled, unbiased and honest. He really likes big, bold wines -- especially those impossible-to-find wines costing more than $20 from obscure wineries. He's useful, but really only to enthusiasts.

In reaction to the May 29 column ("Diving in Down Under"), Patricia wrote: I dearly love those New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, and my Kiwi husband and I are on a crusade to spread the word about his home country's delicious white wine. ... I have to point out, however, that New Zealand consists of not one "small, compact island," but two islands, the North Island and the South Island. Together, the landmass of the two islands is roughly equivalent to that of the state of Colorado, and the population of the country hovers around 4 million.

I stand humbly corrected in my embarrassed state. New Zealand is indeed a double-island country with plenty of room to grow their fabulous fruit. Thanks for the correction.

Lori wrote: I am a dedicated reader of your column and a dedicated wine drinker. I read your recent column on Australian wines. I agree that they are fabulous. My question to you is where to buy Kim Crawford?

Quite a few readers ask for help finding wines mentioned in the columns. We only run reviews of wines available in the market, but sometimes those from the smaller wineries can be difficult to locate. If you're having trouble, take the column to your local, friendly wine shop and ask for assistance. More often than not, they will stock it, and if they don't, they'll be happy to order some for you.

Please keep the feedback coming.

Taylor Eason is a regionally based wino who studied the juice in France and Italy. Comments? E-mail


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