Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Hate WSET Fortified Wines and Spirits Test

I am completely immersed in the material for my next wine test.  In these two upcoming exams I am supposed to demonstrate a solid grasp of everything you could want to know about fortified wines and spirits.  The problem with this is that each of one the subtopics like “scotch” or “port” for example, is so filled with minute detail that people devote their entire careers to grasping the subtleties of these products.  I am attempting to do so while mixing and mastering a new album and selling high ticket NBA Finals sponsorships.  It’s a fool’s errand.  I am going to need some luck to get past this thing.  I am shoving information in as fast as possible and hope some of it sticks.

I was speaking with Krusty this weekend about this daunting task.  The problem has become now that I am so filled with detailed knowledge of wines and liquors that I can barely speak with other human beings about the topic.  What most people say about a whiskey:  “Man, that burns!”.  What I now say about a whiskey:  “You can definitely tell that they use a heavy char in maturation which makes sense because of the high rye content on the mash”.  Who likes to speak about this subject in that much detail?  You guessed it.  No one.

Krusty is getting his PhD in Political Science.  He told me grim stories about having so much knowledge about the political process at this point that a regular conversation is useless.  When on the rare occasion he does find a fellow political scholar, they are both overjoyed at finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.  They almost embrace and call each other “brother” before descending into topics so oblique that I would fall asleep even attempting to type them.  I have this vision of two Russian soldiers bear hugging outside Hitler’s bunker while all the others are drinking vodka and looting.

I have accomplished one of my core missions.  I have learned more than I ever thought possible about fortified wines.  Allow my many months spent on this topic to benefit you.  I have spent many wasted hours reading, discussing, and tasting these wines, so I can make available to you everything you need to know in a very condensed fashion.  Don't be fooled by flowery shit talk.  These are what these wines come down to once the smoke has cleared…

Port:  This is a Portuguese wine that the Imperial British wrestled away from the Portuguese back in the “good old days” (ie. When English military men in walrus mustaches killed darker skinned “savages” in Europe, Asia and Africa while still dressed impeccably).  This wine is very dark red, fruity, and strong as shit thanks to the brandy they pour in soon after making it.  No one currently drinks it now but retired sea captains, Japanese salary men, and old men in libraries that smell like pipe smoke.

VDN or Vin du Natural:  This is a French version of port when made with grenache.  You will never see this wine anywhere unless you find yourself in the company of a retired French sea captain or a wine sales guy that probably has a lot of pressure to get the cases out of his warehouse that have been there for a decade.  The place where the best ones are made, Banyuls, may not even exist.  There is another noteworthy VDN.  Sweet ass muscat wines are also fortified.  You’ll never see these either and as I noted weeks ago if you order a “beaume de venise” in an industrial town like Cleveland or Buffalo, the bartender WILL punch you in the face.  You will deserve it too (despite the fact that these wines taste really good).

Rutherglen:  These are Australian wines that are sweet like raisin juice.  No one in the United States has ever ordered one of these wines in a restaurant.  A store in New Jersey once put these in stock in 1991 but they haven’t sold yet.  The wines are so long lived that the store owner’s grandson will be the third generation working hard to figure out “how the fuck to sell these things”. 

Sherry:  Southern Spain makes these wines that everyone on the planet assumes is the sweet crap their spinster Aunt gets drunk on at bridge games.  It is that but is also a bunch of bone dry and savory wines that have been perfectly formulated to be the exact opposite of the American palate.  Every single person that has come to my house I have made try a sherry.  Every single one of them has gone “What is this crap?” while their facial expression crunched up like they chewed a dried turd.  Despite the Sherry Council trumpeting The Comeback of Sherry, I am not optimistic about the American market unless the waxed mustache crowd goes all in.  I could see a guy on a giant olde timey bike smoking a pipe on his way to get a glass of sherry, but he will just as easily get worked up about sour beers.  Fuck that guy.

Want to know about spirits?  Here’s all you need to know:

Scotch and whiskey:  The people of Ireland and Scotland wanted to get fucked up but all they had was grain.  They somehow figured out how to get fucked up on it by boiling the alcohol off the watery beer they made and tossing it in barrels.  These people later moved to KY and had to use corn to get fucked up.  That’s called bourbon.  Most of these taste terrible and when you drink them you get in fights and fuck people in trailers.  Stay away from them.  Satan lives in those bottles.  The great news is that I discovered I like peaty scotch.  Super.  Maybe I will see if I like PCP next.

Vodka:  Alcohol for people that don't like taste.  The best vodkas don't taste like anything.  That's why they cost so much.  Well, that and the expensive packaging and advertising campaigns.  It's like buying perfume that gets you all buzzed up.  I don't understand why people drink this.

Tequila:  The best tequilas are made from 100% agave.  The ones you got drunk on and barfed up by the dumpster in college are called mixtos.  That means they are 50% agave and 50% anything else like radiator fluid.  Try to avoid those.  Those Mexicans are crafty and hide that on the label.  Read those very closely.

 Rum:  There are 50 billion rums made in 154,762 styles.  You've probably only had Bacardi.  Most of these rums wind up in fruity flamethrowing tiki drinks that end up making people get tattoos of Tasmanian Devils and Flaming Skulls in warm weather climate vacation towns.   Goslings is a company that makes a class of rums called "breakfast rums" which are allegedly good "eye openers".  That last sentence is a good example of something I will write on my exam hoping it seems so confident it must be true.  It's not though.

Gin:  The hipster bartender crowd loves gin.  So do the English.  I hate gin.  That's because I barfed it up all over my bedroom in the late 1980s.  Gin is basically vodka with a tea bag of herbs dunked in it including juniper.  If you like drinking pine needles, you'll love gin.  If I become a London homeless person, I will commit to drinking a lot of gin.  I will also say the word "luv" as often as possible.  Imagine me reeking of gin saying "Got a couple pounds Luv?".  That's all gin!

Cognac:  Grape brandy drunk exclusively by Japanese upper middle class and American rap wannabees.  If you like this buy Armagnac instead.  It's cheaper and funkier.  If you decide you like cognac, get into cocaine too.  It's probably a cheaper habit.

Grappa:  When Italians are done making wine they take the skins and seeds and make booze out of it.  It's awful.  The French do it too.  It's called Marc.  It's even worse.  There are classes of grappa.  They go from "offensive" to "flesh eating".  Read the label first. 

Calvados:  What happens when you distill apple cider.  I personally like this.  You know all those ball busting hard apple cider ads you see on TV?  They pretend that this is what apple cider tastes like.  It doesn't.  It tastes like a wine cooler.  This is what men that like apples and want to get really fucked up after dinner drink.

I've got a week to get it all together.   I know these English wonks at the WSET are going to try and trip me up on gin.  Scotch too.  They love all that Britcentric shit.   They probably all got lit up on Plymouth style gin while writing the exam.  Then they'll laugh it up and come up with questions on Rutherglens.  I see how their sick little minds work.  I'm not worried though.  As you can see I have the basics completely in hand.



At June 10, 2016 at 3:50:00 PM EDT , Blogger Chiller said...

Greg, I swing by your website from time to time to check on you. Usually it's during football season. I have made a mint going opposite of your picks. I appreciate it! Football picking...not so good. Writing funny shit? Damn good.
Keep up the good work. Is it football season yet?

At June 13, 2016 at 6:42:00 PM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

You filthy son of a bitch. (I understand your counter selections though)


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