Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
This isn't going to please the experts.
Oh, but what does, save for their own vast expertise and all those who suck up to them?
I've always been fascinated by how so many wine experts can just take a sip, spit it out and declare that a wine is worth either 94 points or pointing toward the nearest drain.
Do these people ever drink a whole bottle? I'm sure they must, but they're so up their own expertise that the auto-suggestion must be stunning.
I was emboldened to wondering about these people after a recent dinner with a Sonoma winemaker. He told me that for some wine competitions his winery is told to send several bottles. One gets sipped at. The rest get taken by judges for themselves and their friends.
They score by sip only.
I came to wine as an ignorant. (I may, indeed, leave it the same way.)
But the more I tasted, the more I discovered an odd phenomenon. Sometimes, wines that made my mouth sing arias in the tasting room didn't always hum quite the same song when I bought a bottle or two and drank them at home.
The experts will snort that I must have kept them at the wrong temperature, served them at the wrong temperature, or merely that my palate is that of a hirsute hobo.
But, as I've wafted to many parts regularly tasting, buying and tasting more, I've found a difference in wines that somehow manage to hold their glory not during the second sip, but during the second glass.
And so that became my method. When I found wines that delighted me in a tasting room, I bought several bottles and drank them with meals. Over time, you understand.
Some simply didn't stand the test of hours or volume. Others consistently soared.
I should disclose that I'm a Wine Ambassador for Honig Vineyard and Winery in Napa. You'd therefore expect me to say that its wines are immensely consistent. I won't bother saying it then.
Instead, to begin what might become a regular series, here are five wines from my travels in Sonoma County over the last couple of years (how about that for hands across the mountain?) that have consistently produced whole bottles of joy.
I've drunk several bottles of each with meals. Not alone, you understand, but not merely sipping either.
It's not as if reviewers only go to a restaurant once, have a quick nibble and decide whether it's good or bad. And wine, like a restaurant, is such an organic thing anyway.
So let's see whether drinking a substantial (relatively) amount somehow changes your opinion.
These five made it through and none costs more than $50 a bottle. Most cost much less.
I am Alcohol By Volume. Hate me for it.
1. Anaba Winery 2013 J MCK Chardonnay.
The winery is perched on an extremely busy crossroads. Go one way and you'll end up in Napa. Go another way and you'll end up in Glen Ellen. Unless you turn right and drift into Sonoma, that is. I've drunk this wine with several dishes and it behaves like a marvelous house guest all through dinner. It has a fragrance that doesn't do the Joan Collins overwhelming Opium thing on you. And, regardless of what you're eating, it offers a witty accompaniment without making too much noise.
2. VML Winery 2013 Stars Pinot Noir.
I stumbled into this, thanks to a member of the police force. It's a long story, but a perfectly happy one. And made more perfectly happy after sharing a bottle of this sneaky glory. It didn't lose it focus -- and no, neither did I. It danced around some Spaghetti Bolognese. It played very happily with a salmon stir fry. And not once did it complain it was tired.
3. Amphora Winery 2012 Sangiovese.
Amphora's tasting room is in the Wine Mall. Look, that's what the locals call it. Well, the ones I talk to anyway. It's a collection of smaller wineries in Dry Creek Valley that have some lovely secrets. My first venture with this wine was introducing it to Beef and Zucchini tacos. They'd never met, but they got along remarkably well. I also tried it with salmon en papillote. It's not that it merely spoke a little French. It managed to offer a French joke or two. Please understand, it's not that wines such as this are what PC types -- who, research has shown, represent 108 percent of California -- call food-friendly. These wines mix with the food and add to it. They don't sit there politely and agree with everyone.
4. Medlock Ames Winery 2013 Rosé.
Yes, we had a bottle of this with steak from the grill. More than once. Please, I'm not one to believe that the only pairings are the ones that suit experts' theories. Don't let their suggestions (or mine) influence you to drink a certain wine with a certain dish. You are you. Please hold onto that. Anyway, this thing was made from Merlot and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon was thrown in for good measure. The measures I poured allowed for a certain strawberry splendor. I happen to believe that one of the best taste combinations in the world is bacon and bananas, so why wouldn't strawberries and steak go down well? And why wouldn't this Rosé keep on being itself, as meat and various vegetables all fought for my mouth's attention?
5. Porter Creek Winery 2012 Carignane.
The tasting room at Porter Creek is a shed. It's a lovely shed, truly. One that I'm sure would look at the Apocalypse and mutter: "Is that all you have?" When I was first poured this Carignane, I wondered whether it could live with odd tablefellows. It's made from vines that may be older, but less senile, than any member of the Senate. But it's not standoffish, despite the deep, dark thing it has going on. I've even taken it to parties and it's resisted being the life and soul and contented itself with listening so well that you think it's told you so much.