Become A Wine Wallah In Just A Few Easy Steps

The quest for wine-wallah-hood in the Northwest, part one, in which I visit Trader Joe’s among other retailers

Prolegomenon: chill all your reds for 45 minutes in the refrigerator, or 18 minutes in the freezer (on a timer, please).

At Trader Joe’s, improve your odds by selecting bottles that are worth more than the glass itself and the shipping and handling to get it onto the shelf. That means spending at least $4.99 for a Trader Joe’s brand California wine. You could get a generic “California” red. Or you can spend $4.99 or $5.99 and step up in geographic specificity to a Paso Robles or Central Coast syrah or zinfandel, or perhaps cabernet. Some say “Trader Joe’s” explicitly, others seem to be house brands (e.g. Vintjs). Your best odds would seem to lie in sticking with “Trader Joe’s Exclusive” labels and away from goofy names and labels. Unless your psychic income from the kaleidoscopic label is greater than about $2.

Look at the back labels of the Trader Joe’s exclusive reds. You want “produced and bottled” or, even better, “estate grown, produced, and bottled” (a Dry Creek Valley zinfandel from “PK” at $12.99), rather than simply “cellared and bottled” or “vinted and bottled” or, worse, “bottled.” The former do not guarantee fine quality but they are legally meaningful categories that indicate greater continuity in the journey from vineyard to bottled wine.  If you really want to buy a French or Italian bottle, look at the back label. If you buy a wine “bottled” by what looks like a password or zip code, you are getting something no producer wants to put their real name on. The same is perhaps true for California wines from “ABJ” or other anonymized entities, though one hopes that the chain’s buyers live near enough to the wineries that quality control works a bit better.

If you spend $9.99 you should be paying a higher proportion for the drink itself, not the packaging. Seek out Napa and Sonoma, though a Central Coast petite sirah is also worth a try. And for $12.99 you can find zones within Napa such as Oakville or Yountville, or within Sonoma (Alexander and Dry Creek). These appellations are the best California has to offer, and can produce wine with real character. These wines seem to be purchased in small lots of 500 or 750 cases from wineries who presumably sell them for a hot price but appreciate getting immediate cash. If the Trader Joe’s buyer had a  well-functioning nose that day, customers win.

If you do not want to spend $12.99 a day on wine you could try this: buy a $5 or $6 bottle and a $12.99 bottle from, say, Rutherford or Oakville or Dry Creek or Sonoma Valley (a small, very good portion of Sonoma County). Drink a glass, or a glass apiece, of each. Both wines should be fine overnight in the refrigerator. Just take them out when you get home the next afternoon or evening, pour out a few ounces of each into glasses, and wait 15 minutes until they warm up a little. My point: the $12.99 wines with very specific appellations ought to be worth the premium, unless the Trader Joe’s buyer had a runny nose.

The top shelf at Trader Joe’s seems to be mainly nationally distributed brands. Prices seem in line with Safeway, Fred Meyer et al. Nothing wrong there, but nothing special ventured or gained either. How lucky do you feel? But unlike Powerball, there are ways (see above) to improve your odds.

Update: can recommend 2014 TJ Grand Reserve Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley Merlot, $12.99.   Vintjs Mendocino Carignane at $4.99 not tried yet but how bad could it be?


Tea Wallah Endorses Orange-Tinted Primate

If there is a one percent chance that Donald Trump is a monkey, he should withdraw immediately.  Can anyone deny that Sarah Palin is our greatest tea wallah? And that monkeys have been plucking tea leaves for centuries? Of course I am not saying that Donald Trump is really a monkey. But this is the presidency. You can’t take a chance.  You cannot risk that Palin, quite possibly out of fondness for the expertise of monkey tea pluckers she has known, has unwittingly played into the hands, or digits, of an orange-tinged primate. Not good.  Even if monkeys can take selfies, they are not eligible to run for President.

Is Next Week’s Powerball So Big That Even Bernie Sanders Will Play?

Senator Bernie Sanders admitted today that next week’s estimated 1.3 billion dollar Powerball jackpot is “all I can think about” and that he is planning to buy “a couple” of tickets for next Wednesday’s drawing.

My advice to Mr. Sanders: don’t lose focus, Bernie. Just buy one quick pick and “let it go.” You recently acknowledged that growing up in a Brooklyn tenement, a fish once came up into the toilet bowl. You claim that you did not cook the fish. That’s good, because that’s thinking like the dignified billionayuh you knew you would become in 2016. Billionayuhs do not cook toilet fish. Good luck, sir.  If anyone is destined to win the powerball that than which no greater powerball can be conceived, it is you.

My Odds Of Winning The Powerball And Then Giving $900 Million To Elect Republicans

I am thinking of buying another Powerball ticket today, to increase my odds of being able to give $800 million (update: $900 million!) or even more to the Republican candidate and/or super-PAC of my choice so that Americans like me will still be free and great in 2017. I would love to be as benevolent as Charles Koch, who said in an interview with the Financial Times that he is disappointed in the 2016 Republican field, in particular Trump and Cruz, for pushing ideas that would “destroy our free society”–and yet he plans to spend up to nine hundred million dollars to elect one of them, even though he feels that his contributions so far have not bought him and us as much freedom as he had hoped. Actually I am having second thoughts about my political freedom-donation. Maybe I need to put the $900 million in a very complicated “investment vehicle” so that it will grow free of confiscatory taxes and become big enough that I will be able to afford to buy our country’s freedom down the road. Yes, that would be for the best I think.  By the way, could it really be a coincidence that Koch is planning to buy the 2016 election by spending the exact same amount as the biggest lottery jackpot ever.