Tuesday, April 19, 2011

At It Again

Okay so as many of you know I canceled my ten year subscription to the wildly popular publication Food & Wine last year. I did so for their complete lack of interest and respect to people that actually care enough about wine…you know that beverage that they splash on the cover of their magazine, to seek out actual information or at the very least pairings that are not squeezed through the tube of ad dollars and presented to the public ala a Lancome makeover for Wilbur. I had been smelling their fertilizer for a long time, big poo smeared pages of useless and horribly constructed wine advice that read like nails on a chalk board to those of us that are in the trenches, like selling wine to real people.

It was laziness that kept me from killing the subscription before, my credit card just renewed the damn thing every year and when the stupid thing showed up in the mail every month I would grumble, “Dammit! I need to call them”. On the rare occasion that I even opened an issue I would find myself lost in pages and pages of ads, many of which cleverly camouflaged as actual articles, before I would land on yet another dung filled piece of wine writing that made me cringe and bark, “What the fuck are you talking about?!”. Took their November issue last year to push me completely over the edge, I finally contacted them and made the idiocy stop. Took a bit of hoop jumping to remove that leech from my credit card but after sending a link of my somewhat pissy blog post to both the complaint department and the editor I was credited the remainder of my subscription and the plastic wrapped pile of steaming stupidity stopped showing up in my mailbox. I was free of them, or so I thought….

The other afternoon I was stocking my Champagne shelves when a very regular customer approached me. He has been coming in for years, mostly when he and his gourmet group have one of their get-togethers and he wants me to pair a wine to the dish he has been given to prepare. I happen to love this part of my job and it appears to be one of those things that I have a bit of a knack for. I am a total geek about these things, probably think about it way too much but I absolutely adore tweaking my flavor memories around ingredients and walking the isles at the shop until I land on a wine that I “just know” will pair beautifully with something. Yeah, like I said, total geek. So I am always thrilled to see this cat coming at me with his folded pieces of photocopied recipes.

Our usual “how are you?” exchange out of the way and I looked at his paper saying, “Okay kid, what have we got?” and was a bit bummed to hear, “Oh I need a Riesling”. It wasn’t the Riesling part, honestly many of the wines I have paired with his “foodie” groups, somewhat trying dishes have in fact been Rieslings. No, it was the fact that I didn’t get to play match-maker and that he didn’t seem to need a recommendation from me. Seeing that he knew he needed a Riesling I went to the best guy for the job….Randy. That man knows his German section far better than I do and I wanted to make sure that we continued serving this loyal customer to the very best of our abilities….you know, so he keeps coming to us when he needs wine pairings and junk.

Randy had been helping him for only a few seconds before I heard a bit of a grumble coming from the German department. I had been heading there to see just what Riesling Randy might give him but started moving a little quicker when I heard the rumblings. Got there just in time to hear, “Who are these people?” as Randy looked over the photocopied pages before he looked at me with a slightly annoyed grin, “Of course. Food & Wine”.

 The recipe was for poached pears and the Riesling the gentleman needed was not for pairing with the dish but for the poaching liquid and just what does this craptastic rag recommend for the task? Icewine. Not just an Icewine but a German or Canadian Icewine, 750 ML bottle to boot. Um, practical much? For those of you that aren’t quite sure what I’m talking about here, German and Canadian Icewines are  very sweet, very labor intensive and somewhat rare wines that are not only almost always bottled in 375 ML bottles, they tend to start out at around $50.00, some German versions upwards of $200.00. Recommending that a person spend over $100.00 to cook….cook a precious bottle, oh wait, two precious bottles into a sauce is the height of douchbaggery and so off the mark with regards to respecting your readers oh and let’s not forget WINE….assholes. 

We sent our customer on his way with a bottle of Domaine Piquemal Muscat Rivesault, a full bottle for $18.00 to poach his pears in, along with a lesson about complexity and nuance. The very idea that a wine focused publication would instruct their customers, (and that is what they are) to cough up the money for a world class wine and then tell them to dump vanilla pods, cinnamon and whatever else in it….and then cook it?! Well that right there is a gigantic FAIL and only perpetuates the idea that wine is for the uber sophisticates, “Mmmm yeess, I only poach my pears in Icewine” (helps to imagine a nasal heavy voice here) and people that have money to burn. Yeah, that’s gonna help…

Way to help Vodka sales….dickwads.
I still hate you
Hugs and Kisses


V said...

Sheesh. Food & Wine is "Wine for Dummies" by Dummies.

pgrant8258 said...

Hoppy Easter to you and yours, Samantha.

However massively lame F&W mag is...please never pass up a chance to go to their big shindig in Aspen each summer...you know, the one they send Top Chef winners to.

For a number of years I managed the Chart House in Aspen (the original Chart House!)...which was located kitty-corner across from the park where the main action is for this event.

The big tent there is a 3 day "fuster cluck" of bodies and wines and food with all the elements of large tastings that you don't dig much, but the hidden gems are the small receptions, private tastings, and winemaker dinners held all over town that week. If you have the right connections and can get past the crowds and such, it really is an awesome and one of a kind event.

Again, should the chance to attend ever come your way, don't let your funky feelings about the magazine keep you from attending what can be a very cool event. Worst case scenario...you'd get a weekend in Aspen.

And yes, I still have Chart House's recipe for Bleu Cheese Dressing.

peace always, Peter

John M. Kelly said...

Darling I agree with you completely. What that rag (and that is being WAY too kind) needs is someone who can write well and with authority. You would be perfect (at least so far as French wines go, and pairings, and cheeses) but it occurs to me that you are blowing your chances for a lucrative side gig here ;-)

Anonymous said...

"I stilll hate you
Hugs and kisses

Best ending yet!

I still adore you.
Pulling pigtails and running.

Benito said...

Let us join Sherman and Mr. Peabody and step into the Wayback Machine, spiraling back to 1990.

Sherman: Why are we here? Why is Wilson Phillips playing constantly on the radio?

Mr. Peabody: Quiet, boy. We're here because we're going to watch Benito make a fool of himself. He read a recipe from the Frugal Gourmet about making a rich dessert using Jell-O vanilla pudding and Port.

Sherman: But he's only 13! He can't buy Port!

Mr. Peabody: Indeed, his father picked him up a bottle.

(Zip ahead with some bad animation)

Sherman: Golly, Mr. Peabody! They really hate this dessert!

Mr. Peabody: Indeed, dear boy. Cover your ears, Benito's younger brother is going to use some foul language to describe this as a combination of snot and cough syrup.


(Benito hangs his head in shame, and after a bunch of pastry disasters, loses his drive for dessert cooking.)

Mr. Peabody: Dear Sherman, don't laugh. At some point he, like every cook, will learn what wines are good for cooking and which are good for drinking, and where the optimization can occur.

(In the background, Kenny Rogers begins to sing: "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em..."

Samantha Dugan said...

In the words of the one and only Eric Cartmen, "Dude, I'm seriously".

Happy Easter to you and yours as well. I confess to not being a fan of those large food and wine events...mostly because they tend to compete with one another rather than work together. Too many swinging...um, well you know, for my taste. I'm much more affected by spending an evening one on one with a winemaker, in their homes, eating whatever they cook and eat. Just seems so much closer to what the rest of us actually do. That being said, if they let me go, well I might check it out. Can you just imagine the blog fodder I would have after a couple days of that?!

They really have their finger on the pulse don't they? They don't need anyone like me, they NEED Rachel Ray, much more their speed and brand of clueless authority. I can see it now, "Hey guys, Prosecco is a Champagne from Italy, my husband is Italian so I know all about these things. Now take your Italian Champagne, dump it in the ol' garbage bowl, fill it with pre-washed from the market fruit, give it a juush, pop in some decorative straws...aren't these flamingo twisty straws a hoot?! And serve with chocolate pudding. Isn't this fun?!"....fuck me. I'll hold out for Saveur.

Another Day of Crazy,
You know I love it when you tug my tails...

Wonder if your brother could teach me some new words? I do believe that you should never cook with something you wouldn't drink...side note, I know some reps and chefs that cook with corked and oxidized wines and think nothing of it, ewe, but I think it is sublimely irresponsible to tell people to cook with something like Icewine. Can' imagine many Icewine producers would want their laboriously crafted wine cooked to shit but, I could be wrong.

Sara Louise said...

Another Day of Crazy stole my comment! "I still hate you" is such an awesome ending! Gave me my first laugh (and much needed) of the day!

Benito said...


I agree with you, and I can't imagine any circumstance in which you should cook with something as sublime and delicate as Icewine. The same cookbook from the old Frug also included recipes involving Sauternes. If I have Sauternes in my possession, that bottle isn't going to see anything hotter than room temperature until it GETS IN MY BELLY.

I'm kind of a fan of cooking with either bad, or simply past their prime wines. Because honestly, when that wine hits a hot skillet, or gets incorporated in a braise that's above boiling, it's going to kill off any nuances. What you're going to gain in cooking is alcohol (to release elements of spices, tomatoes, herbs, etc.), a bit of sugar, and some residual grape flavor and acidity.


P.S. I think if you and my brother got into a cussing match (October?) I might have to leave the room. ;)

Charlie Olken said...

This is brilliant, "laugh out loud at the sheer stupidity and laugh out loud at the brilliant job you have done carving them up" stuff.

This is writing that no other wine blogger can do.

Thank you.

Samantha Dugan said...

Well cheers to laughter. One of my most beloved things ever....why you think I fell in love with the HoseMaster?! Nice to see you sweet girl and my heart and thoughts are with you.

I've, mistakenly cooked with a corked bottle and I can tell you, just intensifies that wretched. Blech!! Hey if your brother is down I am, wonder how long before we send you pink faced and running into the next room?

Samantha Dugan said...

Charlie Baby,
Can or will? I think that is the truer question. I feel Ron's fingertips in my back when I post things like this, especially when I paste the link on Facebook and see that Ray Isle guy sharing tweets, (um, how did I allow that friendship...or how did he) about "cool" Texas wines and a "mighty excellent" mediocre Burgundy. Hooray medium! (Grumble) pisses me off...and as it turns out, along with your gentle urging, inspires me to pop off.

Lisa said...

Lady, you are on fiyah - all the way down to the perfect Rachel Ray impression! I'm a little embarrassed, guffawing in bed...

Samantha Dugan said...

Yeah fucking Food & Wine is always good for giving me the pube twist that ignites my snarl. Is it too much to hope that a national publication that touts Wine as part of their focus, to like actually give a shit about...wine? Guess so. Gonna go back to my little planet where we care about the flavors, textures, layers and people that strive to please us with them. See you at The Wine Country tomorrow girlie....

Valerie said...

Douchebaggery - *snicker* Yeah, great plan - poach fruit in ice wine while I'm taking a bath in some of that there Booh Pecoche. On it.

Thomas said...

"If you have the right connections and can get past the crowds and such..."


That idea alone would--DOES--keep me away.

Samantha Dugan said...

The Boo Pecoche bath gave me my first laugh of the day!

Kind of with you on that one...

Amy said...

Cute & funny. You made me giggle. . . I am a reader but just don't comment all the time.
Love-miss-love-and junk,

webb said...

Too funny. We dumped F & W because it was so pretentious (and it was free subscription!) Haven't ever actually bought a bottle of icewine, but I promise that I would NEVER cook with it. Way too precious.

Joe said...

Now hang on... isn't $18 still pretty unreasonable for a poaching liquid???

Samantha Dugan said...

Good for you....on both!

I miss you so much girlie. You simply have no idea.

Depends. I don't think so, not when you are trying to get that richness and intensity for the sweetness that I assume those fartknockers were going for.