Vino & Veritas


Before last Thursday, all I knew about money was that Kevin Cronin said to take it and run. (For those readers under 30 and not on Law Review, Cronin was and is the lead singer for the rock ‘n roll band REO Speedwagon, one of Billboard’s best-selling acts for the year 1980. Their finest record is You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tune a Fish. Honestly. Anyone who tells you otherwise is dumb enough to drink Muscat with their venison. Yep, that dumb.)

Last weekend, however, changed all that. I had been ruminating on Judge Posner’s most recent HLR submission for several days, unsure whether to assign it a 7 (trenchantly incisive) or merely a 6 (incisively trenchant). Ordinarily I like my numbers like I like my women: short, curvy and round on the bottom, but recently that 7 had been looking awfully lucky, too. I resolved at last to steal a page from Robert Frost, and follow the road less traveled by: I read the article.

Law and economics washed over me like the pungent dregs from a French peasant’s footrag. The Speedwagon in my brain got drawn and bottled in Posner’s casks. Efficient allocation of resources, I mused. Beneficial wealth maximization. Take the money and run. Suddenly I felt all tingly, like my roommate after a good, hard Gew├╝rztramin-er. I knew what I had to do.

Fast-forward 23 hours. My head was still spinning, and now I had a mouthfeel to make Tyson swoon. I couldn’t tell if I’d gotten Zolteck-Jicked the previous evening, or merely Slaughtered. (Tho-ugh I hoped for the latter — growwwwl!) Fortun-ately my tasting notes lay within easy reach. I scraped off jagged fragments of a Cristal bottle and read aloud: “Tonite: pitch vineyard funding idea to Brian C. Hooper. Name anagrammed is ‘Rich Epo Baron;’ hoping Epo is a good place to grow grapes.”

The notes ended there, but my memory was sufficiently jogged. I recalled opening the first wine … something white … and Brian taking a generous swig. “I like it,” he’d said. “It’s fundamentally conservative.” He wasn’t interested in growing my vines, though, so I’d sent him on his way.

It was then that I’d telephoned an old standby. I’d been determined to get something out of this evening. “Hey Chief,” I’d said. “I’ve got this bottle of $200 champagne ($350 at Marty’s), and I need … er, final approval before I put it on the paper’s tab.” Ordinarily I like my women like my wine — previously sampled by Jonas Blank — but this time I was willing to make an exception.

After that it’s all a haze of blood and spilt bubbly. Maybe there were threats of litigation. At some point, clearly, my line of credit was summarily revoked. A pity, too, since it worked so well last time …

Why am I telling you all of this? As a cautionary tale, partially, but also to explain why my selections this week are a bit, say, flaccid …

Tasting Notes:First is the Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga. ($8, $3.50 and my old Torts book at Marty’s) The label claims “generous mouth feel,” but my tasting notes just say “Ick! Ick! Ick!.” In retrospect, I can recall hints of pine nuts, grasshopper and dashboard air-freshener. Could have been a charming mixture overall, if not for the overpowering suggestions of COUGH SYRUP. When they said “generous,” they must have meant it in the same way one would say: “Nell Carter has a generous ass.” Screw-on top is at least convenient.

A pleasant surprise was Boone’s Farm Wild Island. ($3, 0.48 and my stamp collection at Marty’s) This one I learned about via the Internet, and I must defer at least partially to, whose resident sommelier enticed me with the poignant: “Wild, indeed! This tropical treat contains the juice of several unidentifiable fruits, but the combination is goooood. It also resembles white wine, therefore looking a little classier than the strawberry, even when drunk directly from the bottle.” Excellent work. I would only add that this particular Boone’s is an excellent accompaniment to fresh Pringles, or even (dare I say) Funyons.

Finally, the complex and daunting Light Orange from legendary vineyard Mad Dog 20/20. ($2, shirt I was wearing at Marty’s) As others before me have pointed out, much mystery surrounds the “chemical aftertaste,” and “white thing floating at the bottom” of this vintage. Low marks for bouquet and nose, but high marks for propensity to fuck you up. Plus: in MD-induced stupor, I managed to jot in my notes: “Steve Miller sang ‘Take Money and Run’! Speedwagon = ‘Take It On the Run’!” Inspired, I did just that. Marty was chasing me off of the corner in front of his shop, anyway …

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