More Great Adventures in Cheap Wine

Copyright © 2015 SYDNEY SCHUSTER

My last posts about liquid refreshments were such big hits, here’s some more!

wine

And now, the bad news. 2012 wines blow.

What 1929 was to the stock market, what 1963 and 2000 were to presidential debacles, what 2001 was to the demise of the Fourth Amendment and 3,000 people who mostly weren’t bothering anyone, 2012 is to wine.

I say this because every single 2012 I’ve tried — and there is no nice way to put this — sucked so loud I needed earmuffs to drink it.

Flat. Bitter. Mediciney. Weird colors. I will not touch any more 2012s with a barge pole. Unless someone gives me one for free, in which case I’ll cook with it. Maybe. 2012s are not — repeat NOT —  going to improve with age.

Why? A good question. And I have a theory. So permit me to winesplain.

Before you suggest that perhaps my neighborhood packies park their stock too close to the radiator, let me just say this: All wines usually aren’t bad at once.

That means the problem with the 2012s is something else, something way bigger. (Although the radiator thing is pretty bad too, and it actually happened at one store I used to frequent and don’t anymore.) That’s why this is such a disaster. Being a wine aficionado without being a dick is hard enough without obstacles like this.

As you know, we here at Casa Loco are ardent fans of cheap good wine. We consume it like pop. We don’t care if it has a screw cap. We’re fond of spritzers and goofy cocktails. It’s not that we don’t have refined palates. It’s just that, for the most part, expensive wine is wasted on us because we’ll drink it with corndogs. Plus also, fake wine sucks.

Until 2012 it was easy to score cheap delicious wines from all over the world. It’s stupid not to. Our go-to winners were Berco Do Infante Regional, a $6 super-Tuscan-like red from Portugal that I just adored, and a bangin’ $9 Medoc from Chateau Haut Queyran. Good stuff! Until 2012. Our first bottle of 2012 Berco mostly went into the ragout. There was not a second. And after we cleaned out the 2011 Haut Queyran Medocs, the store didn’t get any more.

Chateau Haut Queyran

Chateau Haut Queyran Medoc

An endless parade of 2012 swill ensued, along with my theory: I suspected 2012 was the first year wine growers got slammed by climate change, and it was major. Too much heat or cold, too much rain or not enough, hail in deserts, shorter growing seasons. The result: a uniform awfulness of product beyond description (and the reason I didn’t post about wine for a long time).

I figured I’d interview some real experts to get the poop, because I was going there anyway.

Everyone should have a wine store like my favorite, owned by two guys (Terry and Terry, I am not making this up) who sample everything they sell because they, you know, care. So I can always ask Terry, “Is this any good?” and they’ll answer “Yes!” or “Maybe get this other one instead.”

Anyway, I asked them what’s the deal with the 2012s. There was a lot of whispering and shoulder shrugging, followed by crickets.

Okay. So next I visited the Interwebs to see what I could find about the death march that is 2012 wine. Here ya go:

It turns out 2012 was a benchmark year in wine fails. According to this lady who clearly knows more than I do, European vineyards were ravaged by bad weather in 2012, “leading to what could be the worst grape harvest in 50 years.” Crop damage was so widespread, some fancypants French and Italian vintners, such as Château d’Yquem, wrote off 2012 altogether rather than produce crap wine.

So much for Europe (and my beloved Berco and Medoc). Unfortunately, I endured equally vile stuff from South America, so don’t believe any PR blather about what a great year 2012 was for their malbecs and carmeneres. It wasn’t. Although some whites took somewhat less of a beating. We did get all the way through a 2012 Concha Y Toro sauvignon blanc magnum. Not terrible, just meh.

Now if you’ll recall, 2012 also was the year Hurricane Sandy destroyed most of the east coast of the US and seven other countries, so don’t expect anything good from them. Not that I was such a fan, but Martha’s Vineyard and Newport do produce wine that some people actually don’t mind drinking when it doesn’t taste like lighter fluid.

Over on the left coast, 2011 was the start of a rough streak for the Northwest. Which makes me sad, because Oregon and Washington state wines had always been among my favorites. I remember a pre-climate change Columbia Crest Two Vines shiraz so divine, it made me weep. RIP, my friend.

Northern California wines got T-boned too, with their climate-related slide starting back in 2010. Out-of-control wildfires aren’t helping them, either. I’d bag Napa and Sonoma brands for now. Also Central Valley. The current drought there pretty much ensures they won’t be producing anything promising any time soon.

Reportedly SoCal wines dodged the ick bullet. But I tired of them a while back — the whites are too minerally and acidic for my taste, the reds too big and unnecessarily complex, and most are stupid expensive.

Doubters: Check out this chart below from Wine Folly. It only covers 2004 to 2011 vintages, but the point’s pretty obvious.

Vintage Badness Chart

Vintage Badness Chart

For what it’s worth, this guy here swears some 2012 German wines aren’t so bad. And while Australia had smaller 2012 crop yields due to drought, they’re not necessarily nasty-ass ones so don’t dismiss them out of hand if you can afford the jacked-up prices.

Now if one were to ask me, I’d guess that many 2012 wines that did make it to stores are “special blends” cobbled together from leftover dregs of previous years and recent rejects that in a million years would never have made it into any bottle. Except, obviously, in an emergency. Which clearly 2012 is. And I’m guessing the few 2012s that don’t suck aren’t really made from 2012 harvests.

Mystery wines to try at your own risk

Mystery wines to try at your own risk

I’m telling ya, it’s been a long year waiting for reinforcements to replace the dogshit 2012s that still bogart the store shelves. So it was with great emotion and gratitude that I flung myself upon the 2013s that finally rolled in and, just last week, a 2014! I was so happy to see it, I took a picture.

Frontera malbec

Frontera malbec (above) is a long-time bargain fave here at Casa Loco. (If you have a choice, 2014 is better than 2013.)

And now you know what torpedoed 2012. Take a moment. Breathe. Then buy something else, okay? Anything else. Thank me later.

Herewith are some wines that are affordable, available now, pretty damn tasty and, most important, not 2012s. Enjoy!

🍷Tricky (Rabbit) Reserva Sauvignon Blanc/Carmenere blend (white, from Chile) 2013 $11.49
🍷The Bean Pinotage (red, from South Africa) 2014 $12
🍷Concha Y Toro Frontera Malbec (Argentina) 2014 $10 magnum!
🍷Concha Y Toro Frontera Carmenere (Chile) 2014 $10 magnum!
🍷Black River Malbec (Argentina) 2014 $12 magnum!
🍷Hedges Family Estate CMS Red Blend (Cab/Merlot/Syrah from Columbia Valley, Washington state) 2011 $12
🍷Lab Vinho Regional Lisboa White Blend (Vital, Arinto, Moscatel, and Sauvignon Blanc, from Portugal) 2013 $6
🍷Lab Vinho Regional Lisboa Red Blend (Castelao, Tinta Roriz, Syrah, and Touriga Nacional, from Portugal) 2013 $6
🍷Slavcek Sivi Pinot (white, from Slovenia) 2014 $13 (a splurge for a bargain wine, and totes worth it!)
🍷Mandrarossa Nero D’Avola (red, from Sicily) 2013 $10
🍷Purato Nero D’Avola (organic red, from Sicily) 2013 $13
🍷Tilia Bonarda (red, from Argentina) 2013 $10
🍷Fairview Goats Do Roam (Cote du Rhone-style red blend from South Africa) 2014 $10
🍷Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava (bubbly goodness from Spain) 2014 $11
🍷Mionetta Prosecco Brut (bubbly goodness from Italy) $13
🍷Terrilogio Primitivo (red, from Italy) 2014 $10
🍷Morgan Cotes du Crow’s (syrah and grenache blend from Monterey) 2013 $18 — well worth the splurge!)
🍷Ninety+ Cellars Old Vine Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) 2014 (earthier) and 2015 (cleaner; Lot 23 is awesome) $11

wine

Copyright © 2015 SYDNEY SCHUSTER — All Rights Reserved

I make no money from this blog. If you find it interesting or useful, please buy Dead Spot. The Kindle version’s only $5 and you’ll love it! Thanks.
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Halloween Drinks

Copyright © 2011 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

My last blog about cheap wine was such a hit, I’ve decided to expand the theme. Writers unite! Nothing beats chugging festive Halloween toddies while hoovering candy and playing strip Twister instead of answering the doorbell. So here they are, my cherished family recipes stolen from all over the Web! Cheers!

VAMPIRE
1 oz raspberry liqueur
1 oz vodka
1 oz cranberry juice

Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice. Serve in highball glasses.

BRAIN HEMORRHAGE
1 oz peach schnapps
1 tsp Bailey’s Irish cream
1/2 tsp grenadine

Pour the peach schnapps, then (slowly) the Irish cream, then the grenadine. Do not mix anything. The creme will settle at the bottom, giving the appearance of guts. Tasty!

BANSHEE
1 oz white creme de cacao
1 oz creme de banana
1 oz cream

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake. Strain into a cocktail glass or shot glasses.

RED ZOMBIE
3 dashes tabasco sauce
3 oz tomato juice
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 lychee nuts
2 large green olives
1-1/2 oz vodka
1 tsp barbecue sauce
1 stick celery
1 pinch celery seeds
1 squirt lemon juice
1 pinch pepper
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp chipotle peppers, finely chopped
1/2 oz horseradish, finely grated

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into martini glass. Cut the end of a celery stalk of so it measures 5-6 inches long, and split it lengthwise. Slide the olives into two lychee fruits to make eye balls. Push the celery stick through both, and lay across the rim of the glass as garnish.

PUMPKIN MARGARITA
2 oz tequila
1 oz lemon/lime mix (or real lime juice)
1 splash pumpkin puree

Rim a cocktail glass with lime juice. Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

PUMPKIN PUNCH


1 large cleaned-out pumpkin
1 part apple cider
2 parts ginger ale
1 part rum
Combine liquid ingredients and serve in the pumpkin, with dry ice.

ALICE IN NIGHTMARELAND
1 part blue Curacao
1 part Jagermeister
1 part Kahlua

Pour ingredients into a shot glass. Serve.

BLOOD
1 oz bourbon
1/2 oz lime juice
1 tsp tequila
tomato juice

Pour all ingredients except tequila into a Collins glass, over ice. Mostly fill the glass with tomato juice, then add the tequila.

GANGRENE
2 oz green creme de menthe
1-1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz tequila
1 tbsp blackberry brandy

Mix the ingredients and pour into an old fashioned or rock glass filled with ice.

FESTERING BOIL


1-1/2 oz Jagermeister
1/2 oz dry gin
1/2 oz vodka
2 cocktail onions

In a highball glass, pour over ice and stir. Add onion.

BEETLE JUICE
1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz melon liqueur
1/2 oz blue Curacao
1/2 oz raspberry schnapps
1/2 oz cranberry juice
Sour mix
Pineapple spear and one cherry

Fill a Collins or other tall glass with ice. Pour the vodka on the bottom. Then fill the glass 3/4 full with sour mix. Pour in the rest of the ingredients one at a time. Do not stir. Garnish with pineapple spear and cherry

BLEEDING HEART MARTINI
2 oz dry vermouth
8 oz gin
Ice cubes
4 pickled baby beets, each placed on a cocktail skewer

Serves 4. Chill 4 martini glasses. Add the vermouth, dividing evenly; swirl to coat the glasses, then pour out. Add gin to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until chilled; divide among the glasses. Garnish each with a skewered pickled baby beet.

PINA GHOULADA
20 oz pineapple juice
1 can cream of coconut (15 oz)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup orange juice
10 oz rum

Whisk together pineapple juice, cream of coconut, heavy cream, orange juice and rum. Place 2-1/2 cups of ice in a blender, then and add 1 cup of the drink mixture. Blend until smooth, and pour into prepared glasses (see below). If mixture is too thick, add more pineapple juice before serving. Repeat process with remaining ice and mixture.

For the “BLOOD RIM” (a Martha Stewart recipe, natch):
3 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 tsp red food coloring

Pour the corn syrup in a shallow bowl. Dip a toothpick into the food coloring, and stir a very small amount into the syrup to combine. Holding a glass by the stem, dip the rim into the syrup mixture and turn the glass, coating the entire rim. Turn the glass upright and allow the mixture to drip down the sides. Repeat for each glass.

For the EYEBALL GARNISH:
canned lychee in syrup, drained
strawberry (or other red-colored) preserves
blueberries

Dry a lychee and fill the cavity with red preserves. Insert a blueberry, blossom end facing out. Spear with a toothpick or cocktail skewer.

Copyright © 2011 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

DEAD SPOT on AmazonSydney Schuster and Dead Spot neither approved nor endorse any third-party advertising that may appear below, nor do we derive any income from it. Feel free to ignore it.