“Waiter, There’s Clam Juice in my Wine!”

“Thank you very much, ma’am, and are you enjoying the undertones of wet chalk?”

If you ask me, winespeak has gone bullhonkydoo, as my late and wonderful mother-in-law once said at a wine tasting.

The offshore Memorial weekend weather simply refused to cooperate so instead of cruising out to the islands we cruised some local wineries, a truly wonderful day out in beautiful countryside, even if some of the wine-makers sounded as if they’d teleported from Mars just in time for the Memorial Day crush.  Maybe Martians appreciate flavors of lead pencil, meat and seaweed in their vintages.

It’s been a while since any of us – John, me, the mermaid and Nemo – has been wine tasting and one development is immediately apparent.  The experience has become more of a touristic day out than a serious tour of the vineyards – and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Nothing at all.  After all, our wine motto is that, above all, any wine experience should be fun.

But this observation – wine tasting as tourism – does change the perspective.  First, it can be quite expensive as wineries realize the great majority of their visitors are not going to buy and therefore jack up their tasting fees.  Second, some of the … pourers? … are simply going through the motions.  Actually, they sound a bit like those call centers but without the Indian accent.  And, third, we began to wonder if some of the big name wineries aren’t resting on their brand laurels.

Finally, we come to the clam juice and wet chalk, two qualities proudly promoted in one of the wines we tasted.  I wish Mama had been with us, she who so mortally offended one winery by asking for some water to add to her wine and told him it improved it!  That’s how she drank it; how many Europeans and young ‘apprentice oenophiles’ drink it.  That’s how she enjoyed it – and isn’t wine primarily about enjoyment?  What Mama would have made of wine with hints of clam juice and wet chalk, the Lord only knows.  And He’s probably hearing from her right now!

John is Poseidon Cooks! wine guy. Profoundly knowledgeable, he has been a wine trader.  Happily, his approach to wine is that selecting it and drinking it should be fun; that what works for one occasional sipper may not work for an aficionado.  Price has very little to do with it: you drink what you can afford and aim for wines that drink ‘more than their price.’  There are plenty of them and no better way to find them than a wine tasting tour.  Aboard Poseidon, our wines range from the relatively inexpensive – Bogle’s Chardonnays and Petit Syrahs, for example, to the relatively expensive Rombauer 2007 Chardonnay.  If you follow us, you’ll know that we’re great promoters of Local, so most of our wine pairings come from the 400-odd vineyards from Ojai to Paso Robles.

Sure, we missed the islands this holiday weekend.  The mermaid missed her fish friends, the bat rays and leopard sharks.  But cruising the wineries, stopping for lunch at Los Olivos, spending the day with good friends… life doesn’t get much better than this.

Another Memorial Day to remember!