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Tom Merle

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Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Tom Merle » Fri Jun 02, 2006 10:03 pm

My Guilty Pleasure
The Golden choice in wine.

By Melinda Ledden Sidak
NRO

I have a confession to make. It’s about an embarrassing habit that has earned me the sneers and pitying glances of sommeliers and right-thinking people from Europe to the Caribbean. You see, I love to drink Big California chardonnays. Big, fruity, buttery, oaky, in-your-face, so-over, 90s-style chardonnay.

And I refuse to apologize for it.

Chardonnay always has seemed to be a very loaded sort of wine compared with other varieties. People think they know something about you the instant they hear you order. The central stigma in the U.S. is its alleged association with affluent political liberals. The term “chardonnay-sipping,” usually is paired with other derogatory compound phrases such as “Volvo-driving,” “brie (or sushi)-eating” “running shoe wearing” and less colorful epithets like “snob” and “sissy.” In this formulation, by the way, chardonnay sippers always live in “leafy” neighborhoods.

In the U.K., by contrast, chardonnay has acquired a decidedly down-market connotation, as “the choice of footballer’s wives, more chavvie than classy,” according to one wine newsletter. “Chavvie” evidently is an offensive slang term for a tramp or gypsy. Either way, it’s nothing to be proud of. Chardonnay is not as unfashionable as merlot has been since the movie Sideways came out, but runs a close second.

Among the wine cognoscenti, the big California chardonnay is an object of open condescension and, in many cases, outright rage and condemnation. For purists, the heavy oaking and double fermentation process known as malolactic is regarded as shoddy at best, sacrilegious at worse. Malolactic fermentation uses bacteria rather than yeast and does not commence until the primary fermentation is complete. Its purpose is to reduce acidity and enhance flavor. The influential wine critic Robert Parker is regularly pilloried—in a manner reminiscent of the similar fervent resentment directed against Bill Gates and Microsoft, —for promoting an “opulent” “globalized” style of chardonnay as well as other varietals. In response, many winemakers and wine retailers are shifting to chardonnays that use grapes picked earlier, undergo only partial malolactic fermentation, and use less oak. This, it is said, preserves the delicate and pristine flavor of the grape instead of overpowering it with oak and adulterating it through human manipulation to appeal to crude, unrefined palates such as mine and the footballers’ wives.

The only problem is that it doesn’t really taste as good.
<snip>
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Robin Garr

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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 02, 2006 10:45 pm

Hey, Tom, is that part of a longer article, or what? Do you hold the copyright?
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Tom Merle » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:16 pm

Ooop :oops:

Yes, it is part of an article, and after I copy and pasted it I realized that this is probably a no-no. NRO at the top stands for National Review Online. I was going to delete it but I don't know how. You better do it for me Robin. Sorry about that TOM
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:50 pm

Don't worry about it, Tom ... We don't get our knicks in a wad around here unless things really get out of control. ;-) I just wanted to check.

If you happen to have the URL for the location of the original article, maybe you could just tack it on to this thread so folks who are interested can go and read the rest. And for future ref, the ideal way to do these things is to post a couple or three paragraphs ("fair use") and then link to the rest.
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Isaac » Sat Jun 03, 2006 12:16 am

Tom Merle wrote:My Guilty Pleasure
I have a confession to make. It’s about an embarrassing habit that has earned me the sneers and pitying glances of sommeliers and right-thinking people from Europe to the Caribbean. You see, I love to drink Big California chardonnays. Big, fruity, buttery, oaky, in-your-face, so-over, 90s-style chardonnay.

And I refuse to apologize for it.
Yup. I feel the same way. Not that I don't like other styles of chardonnay, only that, when I want a big, buttery chard, nothing else will do, and nothing else comes close.
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Jenise » Sat Jun 03, 2006 12:08 pm

Cute article, Tom. I'm a sympathizer like Isaac--just because there are some egregious examples out there, I refuse to succomb to the trend of hating the grape.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Paulo in Philly » Sat Jun 03, 2006 12:43 pm

She can continue to sip whatever she likes but if she is not going to bother to check the spelling of the word "conoscenti" I guess she truly gives away what kind of a writer she is. I also don't agree with her comparison of RP to Bill Gates and Microsoft - I have microsoft applications on my computer, I have, however, nothing of RP that influences my choices of wine.
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Dale Williams » Sat Jun 03, 2006 1:18 pm

Paulo Faustini wrote:She can continue to sip whatever she likes but if she is not going to bother to check the spelling of the word "conoscenti" I guess she truly gives away what kind of a writer she is.


Um, a writer using English? Cognoscenti is indeed the correct spelling. I assume your spelling is the modern Italian.

While most of the time I prefer other styles of Chardonnay, I don't mind a wellmade butter/fruit bomb on occasion (either by itself, or with a lobster and drawn butter).
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Thomas » Sat Jun 03, 2006 1:22 pm

Seems like a rant that requires little attention. She obviously knows just enough about malolactic fermentation to have formed an opinion, but not enough to know exactly what ml does to wine.
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by MtBakerDave » Sat Jun 03, 2006 1:57 pm

Here's a URL for the article:
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ND ... czM2RlNmI=

I couldn't find any other articles she's written on wine, but she has written articles on far-right women's issues, such as this, where she rails against calling one's spouse a "partner":
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... i_80951847

I'd take the Chardonnay article as being more politically oriented than wine oriented. She also takes a slap at French culture and white burgundy later in the article.

Dave
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Paulo in Philly » Sat Jun 03, 2006 2:21 pm

Dale,

Good catch! Yes - I guess I was thinking modern Italian. See - this is why I stick to singing and not writing! :lol:
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Thomas » Sat Jun 03, 2006 5:05 pm

One of my old pastimes was to write letters to the editor when something got to me. Haven't done that in a while, but this Melinda thing got to me. Here is what I sent to the NRO editor:

Editor,

Regarding Melinda Ledden Sidak's "My Guilty Pleasure," column: can anyone submit a meaningless rant or does one have to be known by the NRO staff?
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Tom Merle » Sat Jun 03, 2006 11:57 pm

[gave address; didn't see that it was already inserted]
Last edited by Tom Merle on Sun Jun 04, 2006 12:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Tom Merle » Sun Jun 04, 2006 12:21 am

Dear Editor: Regarding Melinda Ledden Sidak's "My Guilty Pleasure," column: can anyone submit a meaningless rant or does one have to be known by the NRO staff?


This is just the sort of scornful response that she highlights in the article. Let the wine geeks trumpet the lemony, steely, Chablisesque Chardonnay, she seems to be saying, I, Melinda (and I suspect a lot of other rubes), will continue to enjoy the bigger, fleshier Chards that are so out of favor with the "experts".

She was just having some fun :wink: . Surprised no one commented on her humor, which made her piece fun to read, unlike most winespeak articles.... TOM
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Paulo in Philly » Sun Jun 04, 2006 12:38 am

MTBakerDave wrote:Here's a URL for the article:
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ND ... czM2RlNmI=

I couldn't find any other articles she's written on wine, but she has written articles on far-right women's issues, such as this, where she rails against calling one's spouse a "partner":
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/ ... i_80951847

I'd take the Chardonnay article as being more politically oriented than wine oriented. She also takes a slap at French culture and white burgundy later in the article.

Dave


Oh - thank you for the links. It all makes sense now! LOL.
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Thomas » Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:17 am

Tom,

I did not mention anything in my letter about her wine preferences--don't really care what she likes, which is part of my point. I do wish when writers put into print anything technical about wine that they do some homework first.

I love it when essayists start out by complaining about all the snobs who trash others for being who they are and then they spend the rest of their essays trashing others who are who they are. To me, that is beyond funny--it is pathetic.
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Tom Merle » Mon Jun 05, 2006 2:19 am

Tom-

I did not mention anything in my letter about her wine preferences--don't really care what she likes, which is part of my point. I do wish when writers put into print anything technical about wine that they do some homework first.


So where did our inadequate student err? Did she gloss over partial malolactic fermentation? And right or wrong on the technicalities, wasn't her main (overstated for effect) point that the in crowd treats with disdain what ordinary folks enjoy.

I love it when essayists start out by complaining about all the snobs who trash others for being who they are and then they spend the rest of their essays trashing others who are who they are. To me, that is beyond funny--it is pathetic.


She couldn't have written her piece otherwise. Satire requires that some group, usually the establishment, is ridiculed for their superior, self righteous attitudes. Yes, Melinda takes pleasure in putting down snobbery, which our hobby has in spades. Using the word "pathetic" does strike me as unnecessarily defensive.

I realize I'm just a guy who recently wondered into this board and you've put up 143 posts since March, so I'd better back off 'til I get my bearings. :?

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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Thomas » Mon Jun 05, 2006 8:24 am

Tom,

Don't back off.Let's just drop this.
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Robin Garr » Mon Jun 05, 2006 9:13 am

Tom Merle wrote:I realize I'm just a guy who recently wondered into this board and you've put up 143 posts since March, so I'd better back off 'til I get my bearings. :?


Tom, as Thomas said, no need to go there. We don't do "rank" in this forum, and the user levels and post numbers are only for silly fun. They came with the software, and we kept them available for laughs, but chose ridiculous rank names to emphasize that <i>they don't mean anything</i>.
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Isaac » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:48 am

Yup. Along that line, I see I've moved up to Wine Geek. Too bad. I wanted to remain a Cellar Rat!
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Re: Melinda's guilty pleasure

by Sam Platt » Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:20 pm

The wine drinking community has a big tent. It is even large enough to fit in writers who have a deadline approaching and nothing meaningful to say.
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