An embarrassment of riches, or, drinking good wine with non- geek friends.

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J a y H a c k
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#1 Post by J a y H a c k » February 8th, 2016, 5:47 am

And family. Why do we serve mediocre wines with people who are not obsessive compulsive about wine? Maybe it's because we can't afford to be extravagant all the time, which is a legitimate reason. But other than that, I have no good excuses. I don't think three friends to watch the Super Bowl with my wife, my son and me qualifies as a Super Bowl party, so let's just say we had a few people over last night. Watch football, eat ribs and cole slaw and fried wings and homemade guacamole (how do people eat that store bought crap?) and drink some good wine. We started with the Frog and then went to the Stein. We needed a third bottle in the second half, so we grabbed the Saxum for a trifecta. I decided that I couldn't pick which one I liked better so I assigned them all 95 points. All exceptional. Biggest surprise was the Stein, which was so spice driven.

A votre sante.
  • 2007 Saxum Heart Stone Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (2/7/2016)
    Pop and pour because we wanted to open another bottle. This wine is starting to emerge from infancy. There is the fruit forward red fruit flavor up front but as it slides down the tongue and caresses the mouth, there is a secondary dark brooding cherry that emerges. There is a meaty/earthy component overhang that is almost like a dry aged steak, but only a short aging, maybe 15 days. Outstanding balance. Miles to got before it sleeps. My guess is that this will still be singing for decades. Delicious now but no need to rush. (95 pts.)
  • 2012 Cayuse Syrah Bionic Frog - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley (2/7/2016)
    Decanted at 9 am, left in the cellar in the decanter at 58 degrees, started drinking at about 5:30 pm. When decanted, there was a bit of Cayuse stylistic barnyard on the nose, but it was all gone after the decant, which was fine with me because I am not a fan. Note to self - do not pop and pour Cayuse. My first Frog. This is a fruit driven wine. Not over the top, as I expected, but far from delicate. Mostly a cascade of red fruit. Some herbal components like sagebrush. Long finish. I did not watch this evolve in the glass, as some suggested I should do on Wineberserkers, because of the long decant, but where it ended up in its evolution was just fine with me. Perhaps "ended up" is a gross misstatement because, after all, it was a 2012! Why people predict that wines like this will fall apart is beyond me. Reminds me of a T-shirt I have. I'm not getting older, I'm just getting more complex. Give this a decade of additional complexity. Maybe two decades. Delicious. (95 pts.)
  • 2012 Sine Qua Non Grenache Stein - USA, California, Central Coast (2/7/2016)
    Infanticide but still worth the price of admission. Uncorked at 9 am for a slow ox, started drinking at about 6:45 pm just after kickoff. There is more spice than fruit bomb by a wide margin. Fantastic smooth pepper spice with red berry fruit behind it. Excellent balance. Wears its alcohol very well. This is an outstanding wine with a lot behind it trying to push its way through. I'll put the rest away for a while but if this gets better, it moves into the exceptional category. (95 pts.)
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#2 Post by Loren Sonkin » February 8th, 2016, 5:49 am

So you posted last week about trying to decide BETWEEN the Frog, SQN, or Saxum.....

Well played.
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#3 Post by Steven Brown » February 8th, 2016, 6:04 am

I’m curious to hear how your non-geek friends reacted to the wines. (It’s always disappointed when all they can say is something like, “It’s nice.”)

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#4 Post by J a y H a c k » February 8th, 2016, 7:07 am

Steven Brown wrote:I’m curious to hear how your non-geek friends reacted to the wines. (It’s always disappointed when all they can say is something like, “It’s nice.”)
They all said they were great. To be fair, these were people who like wine. It's not like I had a group of people at my house who were IPA beer lovers and I refused to serve them what they wanted because my palate was better than theirs. If I thought they didn't like wine, I would not have opened those choices. That's just being a good host. I did not serve any white wine (my original plan was a white starter) because two out of the six people affirmatively disliked white wine and two others were not really fans of it. It's a balancing act, but I have served Saxum and Carlisle to secretaries and messengers who work in my office at our outings and they tell me they think it's great. Maybe they are lying because I have a say in their paychecks, but other than that, in my experience people who like wine may not know the difference, but they can tell the difference. I wouldn't give good wine to my partner Roger because he is a Belgian Ale guy who never drinks wine. That's just knowing your audience.
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#5 Post by alan weinberg » February 8th, 2016, 7:18 am

I serve decent (mediocre) wines if the crowd won't understand/appreciate the great stuff--acidity and structure, etc. Got to appeal to the crowd.

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#6 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » February 8th, 2016, 7:27 am

J a y H a c k wrote:
Steven Brown wrote:I’m curious to hear how your non-geek friends reacted to the wines. (It’s always disappointed when all they can say is something like, “It’s nice.”)
They all said they were great. To be fair, these were people who like wine. It's not like I had a group of people at my house who were IPA beer lovers and I refused to serve them what they wanted because my palate was better than theirs. If I thought they didn't like wine, I would not have opened those choices. That's just being a good host. I did not serve any white wine (my original plan was a white starter) because two out of the six people affirmatively disliked white wine and two others were not really fans of it. It's a balancing act, but I have served Saxum and Carlisle to secretaries and messengers who work in my office at our outings and they tell me they think it's great. Maybe they are lying because I have a say in their paychecks, but other than that, in my experience people who like wine may not know the difference, but they can tell the difference. I wouldn't give good wine to my partner Roger because he is a Belgian Ale guy who never drinks wine. That's just knowing your audience.
I gave my assistant a 2014 Clos de la Roilette Cuvee Tardive a few weeks ago. Not a word . . . . [wow.gif] True.

And that's my issue, the wines I like tend not to be what I call "crowd pleasers". I brought a highly-rated Priorat with 15.5% alcohol to a super bowl party last night and it was a hit. Not a knock on the wine or the style, but in that setting, it just seems like full-flavored, larger-scaled wines do better.

In a smaller group like what you had, I would open a mix of things.

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#7 Post by Joe B » February 8th, 2016, 7:29 am

I want to get invited next year Jay. I can appreciate all three.

And i dont have run of the mill wines in my house so i cant serve non wine geek friends anything but my good stuff.
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#8 Post by Jeremy C » February 8th, 2016, 8:07 am

Sounds like a fun evening.

I don't knowingly have wines that I don't enjoy myself, so I always serve good wine. I do however tend to serve more fruit-driven wines for non-geeks.

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#9 Post by J a y H a c k » February 8th, 2016, 8:07 am

Joe B wrote:I want to get invited next year Jay. I can appreciate all three.

And i dont have run of the mill wines in my house so i cant serve non wine geek friends anything but my good stuff.
With the Jets in the Super Bowl next year, I expect to be in Houston for the game, so I don't know what will be going on in my house. But on the off chance that they don't make it to the promised land, you can come.
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#10 Post by Robert Love » February 8th, 2016, 8:17 am

I do the same as you, Jay. It is just being a good host. And wine is wonderful with friends, even if they don't appreciate the subtleties I do.

Sometimes this can be a painful experience, however.

Over Christmas I opened a 1983 Château Margaux (TN here). As I describe in that note, the wine didn't start well: The cork disintegrated, the wine was completely closed on the nose, and the palate was dull. Worried the bottle was shot, we double decanted it and stuck it in an ice bucket (we were in South Florida and it was hot). I ignored it for half the night.

Sometime later I find a partygoer, her glass filled to the brim with about a third of the bottle! She commented the wine was oddly earthy and delicate. My eyes wide and jaw dropped, my wife could only laugh.

Of course, the bottle ultimately was gorgeous. I'm glad we shared it.
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#11 Post by Chris Seiber » February 8th, 2016, 11:30 am

I'm all for being generous with good wines for friends, but given finite resources and availability, I do somewhat tailor what I serve to what I think makes sense for given company. And I realize that if I open a Michel Gaunoux 1er Cru or Lopez de Heredia Blanco from the 1990s for most guests we have, they're going to find it thin and uninteresting, so why serve it then?

I would say in general that it makes more sense going up the price/quality ladder to serve big modern styled wines to civilian company. If you're a balla and want to serve Harlan or SQN to your neighbors on Memorial Day, they'll probably enjoy it pretty well. A 1985 First or Second Growth, maybe not so much.

We had a couple over yesterday to watch the game. The guy used to play pro soccer in Spain when he was younger, so he's quite a lover of all things traditional and Spanish. So we had 2006 Muga Prado Enea, surrounded by a 2013 Francois Chidaine Les Choiselles (excellent, nice high acids) and a 2013 Carlisle Papera (kind of too young and intense, I'd wait a year or more on this bottle). And they graciously tried a small pour of my homemade 2015 Grenache Blanc which I just bottled a month ago - it showed reasonably well, but I think it probably needs at least a few months after the bottling and the sulfite addition.

The only bummer was that I had always wanted to try Prado Enea, I had a small first pour which was impressive but very tightly coiled still, and then when I returned from the kitchen a little while later, it was all gone because my friend and his wife loved it so much. I didn't mind them drinking it, but I wish I had gotten a small glass later to see how it developed. I guess I'll have to buy another bottle.

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#12 Post by Carlos Delpin » February 8th, 2016, 11:54 am

J a y H a c k wrote:
Steven Brown wrote:I’m curious to hear how your non-geek friends reacted to the wines. (It’s always disappointed when all they can say is something like, “It’s nice.”)
They all said they were great. To be fair, these were people who like wine. It's not like I had a group of people at my house who were IPA beer lovers....

Hey, what's with the beer bashing!
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#13 Post by Jay Miller » February 8th, 2016, 11:58 am

Where's the good wine?
Ripe fruit isn't necessarily a flaw.

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#14 Post by Peter Kleban » February 8th, 2016, 12:04 pm

Jay Miller wrote:Where's the good wine?
In the eye of the beholder, clearly ;-) (or maybe I should say mouth) neener newhere
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#15 Post by Dan Hammer » February 8th, 2016, 12:09 pm

J a y H a c k wrote:
  • 2007 Saxum Heart Stone Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (2/7/2016)
    Pop and pour because we wanted to open another bottle. This wine is starting to emerge from infancy. There is the fruit forward red fruit flavor up front but as it slides down the tongue and caresses the mouth, there is a secondary dark brooding cherry that emerges. There is a meaty/earthy component overhang that is almost like a dry aged steak, but only a short aging, maybe 15 days. Outstanding balance. Miles to got before it sleeps. My guess is that this will still be singing for decades. Delicious now but no need to rush. (95 pts.)
  • 2012 Cayuse Syrah Bionic Frog - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley (2/7/2016)
    Decanted at 9 am, left in the cellar in the decanter at 58 degrees, started drinking at about 5:30 pm. When decanted, there was a bit of Cayuse stylistic barnyard on the nose, but it was all gone after the decant, which was fine with me because I am not a fan. Note to self - do not pop and pour Cayuse. My first Frog. This is a fruit driven wine. Not over the top, as I expected, but far from delicate. Mostly a cascade of red fruit. Some herbal components like sagebrush. Long finish. I did not watch this evolve in the glass, as some suggested I should do on Wineberserkers, because of the long decant, but where it ended up in its evolution was just fine with me. Perhaps "ended up" is a gross misstatement because, after all, it was a 2012! Why people predict that wines like this will fall apart is beyond me. Reminds me of a T-shirt I have. I'm not getting older, I'm just getting more complex. Give this a decade of additional complexity. Maybe two decades. Delicious. (95 pts.)
  • 2012 Sine Qua Non Grenache Stein - USA, California, Central Coast (2/7/2016)
    Infanticide but still worth the price of admission. Uncorked at 9 am for a slow ox, started drinking at about 6:45 pm just after kickoff. There is more spice than fruit bomb by a wide margin. Fantastic smooth pepper spice with red berry fruit behind it. Excellent balance. Wears its alcohol very well. This is an outstanding wine with a lot behind it trying to push its way through. I'll put the rest away for a while but if this gets better, it moves into the exceptional category. (95 pts.)
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#16 Post by brian i » February 8th, 2016, 9:02 pm

Reminds me of a dinner party that I went to a few weeks ago. I brought Domaine Tempier's entry level Bandol 2012 - "decent," if very young (we were eating ginger fennel pulled pork or some such). Dude pours himself ~400mL into a glass, takes a sip, says "man, that's good" and then chugs the whole glass. [bye.gif]
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#17 Post by Scott Everson » February 8th, 2016, 9:24 pm

Am I missing something here? Three bottles for six people is the pre-party before the game starts.

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#18 Post by J a y H a c k » February 9th, 2016, 4:23 am

Carlos Delpin wrote: . . . Hey, what's with the beer bashing!
Taken out of context. neener I merely said that if they loved IPA, I would have served them IPA, although I personally hate IPA. Give me a good Belgian Triple and we can talk.
Jay Miller wrote:Where's the good wine?
No more room on my credit card.
Dan Hammer wrote: . . . Anything leftover for a taste tonight?
Not unless you want to try to lick out the insides. We'll have to do it again soon. to clear out room for the Spring shipping season. I have too much inventory and my cellar has a waiting list.
Scott Everson wrote:Am I missing something here? Three bottles for six people is the pre-party before the game starts.
It was a football watching event, not an offline. Besides, those three bottles were equal to six bottles of Spatlese.
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#19 Post by Walt Hoehler » February 9th, 2016, 7:09 am

I love doing this kind of things with good friend who can appreciate good wine but aren't necessarily geeks like us. We had a bunch of college buddies over this weekend and did real damage to the cellar.

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#20 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » February 9th, 2016, 8:24 am

I have never held with the practice of saving best bottles for only those who can reciprocate, or for big d--k contests. Sure, sometimes you need to have the entry fee in hand if you want to participate in an event, but I derive much more pleasure from sharing my best bottles with my favorite people, and I get special joy from sharing with those who have interest but not access or means. You'll rarely get the same awe and delight on the face of someone with a cellar full of great Burgundy (for example) as you will from someone who has never had the chance to taste a truly great aged bottle before. Of course, I don't force wine on my friends who don't like it, but I definitely support sharing with the non-geeks.
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#21 Post by T.L. Reasoner » February 9th, 2016, 11:19 am

I rarely pull out expensive bottles for non wine geeks for two reasons A. Most would not pay over $20 a bottle and B. Mid priced Big full bodied wines are party pleasers. I like to introduce non geeks to Good daily drinker deals that are not fruit bombs the "hey got this for $12 at costco... too try this from Spain it is really nice and only $15". To me this gets people interested more so then an aged Burgundy that is in triple digits.

But for people who appreciate wine I am happy to share anything I have on any occasion. Because the best thing to pair with good wine is good people
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#22 Post by Peter Kleban » February 9th, 2016, 12:04 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:I have never held with the practice of saving best bottles for only those who can reciprocate, or for big d--k contests. Sure, sometimes you need to have the entry fee in hand if you want to participate in an event, but I derive much more pleasure from sharing my best bottles with my favorite people, and I get special joy from sharing with those who have interest but not access or means. You'll rarely get the same awe and delight on the face of someone with a cellar full of great Burgundy (for example) as you will from someone who has never had the chance to taste a truly great aged bottle before. Of course, I don't force wine on my friends who don't like it, but I definitely support sharing with the non-geeks.
How thoughtful and nice, Sarah. Those people are lucky to have you as a friend!
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#23 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » February 9th, 2016, 12:12 pm

Thank you, Peter. The downside is that they then have to listen to me talk about the wine. Sometimes it's too great a price to pay. :)
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#24 Post by Peter Kleban » February 9th, 2016, 12:28 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:Thank you, Peter. The downside is that they then have to listen to me talk about the wine. Sometimes it's too great a price to pay. :)
[rofl.gif]
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#25 Post by Sherri S h a p i r o » February 9th, 2016, 12:32 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:I have never held with the practice of saving best bottles for only those who can reciprocate, or for big d--k contests. Sure, sometimes you need to have the entry fee in hand if you want to participate in an event, but I derive much more pleasure from sharing my best bottles with my favorite people, and I get special joy from sharing with those who have interest but not access or means. You'll rarely get the same awe and delight on the face of someone with a cellar full of great Burgundy (for example) as you will from someone who has never had the chance to taste a truly great aged bottle before. Of course, I don't force wine on my friends who don't like it, but I definitely support sharing with the non-geeks.
Well said and I couldn't agree more!

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#26 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » February 9th, 2016, 12:38 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:I have never held with the practice of saving best bottles for only those who can reciprocate, or for big d--k contests.
Should this now devolve into an AF thread of epic proportions, or does Sarah get a hall pass cause she's a badd azz!? ;) Note, Corey does not qualify for commentary.

I get what you are saying, Sarah, but I've given up trying to expose some of my friends and family, including my wife and dad, to Levet, Juge, Roilette, Raffault, Sociando, et al. It's no different than them popping for me SQN. It just doesn't register. I think the wine has be more in the middle and less on the extremes.

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#27 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » February 9th, 2016, 1:23 pm

To be sure, there's no point in pearls before complete swine....
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#28 Post by Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow » February 9th, 2016, 2:14 pm

Yeah...save them for "big d--k contests". Pad the results.

Where do these events take place, by the way? I've never heard of any before Sarah's post.

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#29 Post by J a y H a c k » February 9th, 2016, 2:47 pm

Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow wrote:Yeah...save them for "big d--k contests". Pad the results.

Where do these events take place, by the way? I've never heard of any before Sarah's post.
Remember, she used to be in New York.
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#30 Post by J a y H a c k » February 9th, 2016, 2:52 pm

Robert Alfert, Jr. wrote:
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:I have never held with the practice of saving best bottles for only those who can reciprocate, or for big d--k contests.
Should this now devolve into an AF thread of epic proportions, or does Sarah get a hall pass cause she's a badd azz!? ;) Note, Corey does not qualify for commentary.

I get what you are saying, Sarah, but I've given up trying to expose some of my friends and family, including my wife and dad, to Levet, Juge, Roilette, Raffault, Sociando, et al. It's no different than them popping for me SQN. It just doesn't register. I think the wine has be more in the middle and less on the extremes.
You just have to know a bit about your audience. I would not have opened the Super Bowl wines if you were in New York. I would go with the mag of Raffault [OMG - he owns what?] and maybe the 1975 Gruaud and a 1982 Hospices Pommard.
Yes, that's a DM of 1978 Mouton!

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#31 Post by Sean Moore » February 9th, 2016, 3:00 pm

Jay Miller wrote:Where's the good wine?
And the fresh wine? Geez, the freshest wine you served is already years old. champagne.gif

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#32 Post by Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow » February 9th, 2016, 3:22 pm

J a y H a c k wrote:
Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow wrote:Yeah...save them for "big d--k contests". Pad the results.

Where do these events take place, by the way? I've never heard of any before Sarah's post.
Remember, she used to be in New York.
Oh, I don't think I knew that. We're different in Philadelphia.

And, we don't tawk like Bernie.

Did Donald sponsor these contests?

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#33 Post by Steven Brown » February 9th, 2016, 8:06 pm

Robert Love wrote: Over Christmas I opened a 1983 Château Margaux (TN here).
I want an invitation to your Christmas party this year! I promise to pour no more than half a glass of the next treasure you share!

Steve

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#34 Post by Mstanford » February 9th, 2016, 8:49 pm

I think back on how i came to appreciate the big boy wines...and it was incrementally. What I mean is that when I was drinking in the $25-$35 range, I could appreciate the step up to a 50-60 bottle and what that meant and really enjoy it. I didn't need someone flashing a Harlan to show me how important they were - I wasn't able to appreciate it anyway & would have just thought they were being a dou...bag, even if they weren't trying to be.

So I try to think about that when we're having dinner guests over that I know aren't used to drinking higher end wines. I try to serve things from my cellar that are maybe a couple of clicks better than they normally drink...but not stuff that'd be completely out of their universe. With a smaller group we'll move up the ladder some if they really seem to enjoy themselves. Once someone drops an ice cube in their wine, i know we're done.
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#35 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » February 10th, 2016, 5:06 am

Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow wrote:
J a y H a c k wrote:
Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow wrote:Yeah...save them for "big d--k contests". Pad the results.

Where do these events take place, by the way? I've never heard of any before Sarah's post.
Remember, she used to be in New York.
Oh, I don't think I knew that. We're different in Philadelphia.
Funny, I have been using that term to describe a certain type of wine dinner or event for more than 15 years now, and so far everyone else has known exactly what I mean.

They have such events in Philadelphia as well, but I am sure they fit into the commodious category of things Stuart doesn't like or disapproves of or in which he doesn't see the point.
Sort of ITB - my husband imports a small amount of sake and I help out

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#36 Post by Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow » February 10th, 2016, 5:36 am

The descriptor Sarah used says it all.

I guess people in Philadelphia are different in not reporting on them on WB as if they're not that. I can't remember reading here of any such events.

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#37 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » February 10th, 2016, 6:00 am

And perhaps people in Philadelphia are also different in their constant need to pass judgment on the choices or actions of others.
Sort of ITB - my husband imports a small amount of sake and I help out

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#38 Post by Chuck Anderson » February 10th, 2016, 6:25 am

Hard to see where that might qualify as "different" in the context of this board - ofttimes that need to proclaim judgments publicly seems more the unifying principle here than wine.

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#39 Post by Jay Miller » February 10th, 2016, 6:30 am

Chuck Anderson wrote:Hard to see where that might qualify as "different" in the context of this board - ofttimes that need to proclaim judgments publicly seems more the unifying principle here than wine.
For a small but vocal minority only.
Ripe fruit isn't necessarily a flaw.

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#40 Post by Bob Hughes » February 10th, 2016, 3:31 pm

Hey, I live in Philadelphia - how come I never get invited to these kind of tastings? Is it because everyone thinks I'm a "big d--k"? ;)

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#41 Post by Dennis Kanagie » February 10th, 2016, 4:21 pm

Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow wrote:Yeah...save them for "big d--k contests". Pad the results.

Where do these events take place, by the way? I've never heard of any before Sarah's post.
If you don't know where they are, it's because you don't have a big enough d--k.
Purple Drankin' Cretin

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#42 Post by Dennis Kanagie » February 10th, 2016, 4:25 pm

Bob Hughes wrote:Hey, I live in Philadelphia - how come I never get invited to these kind of tastings?
I'll let you know the next time we have a Cab-Off. We're thinking of doing the $100 price point soon. [drinkers.gif] Not exactly ballah level but still fun.

Sarah, you'll be invited too despite not having....... um, uh...... should I say the necessary equipment? [wink.gif]
Bob Hughes wrote: Is it because everyone thinks I'm a "big d--k"? ;)
Better to be a big d--k than a huge d--che. Myself? I'm an @sshole.
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