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Date: Sun, Mar 31, 2013 Wine Tasting

and a small, rare and beautiful cylinder of hand crafted Nakamura Easter eggs.

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Lake's Folly Cabernets 2005

Date: Thu, Mar 28, 2013 Wine Tasting

The late Max Lake was not the first or the last medical practitioner with a fondness for the grape. With my skewed and carefully selected sample, I find I'm surrounded by doctors who happen to enjoy the occasional tipple into inebriation. Is it the income and relative affordability or the years spent studying microbes and inhaling formalin?

This bottle is particularly delicious, even for for someone more fond of Pinot noir. Titled Cabernets, there is only one Cabernet based grape in the mix. 68% Cabernet sauvignon / 13% Petit verdot / 11% Merlot / 8% Shiraz. Cork sealed and tartrate crusted with 13% alcohol.

Delicate and perfumed, in descending order of intensity but not confidence - violets, malt, cassis, pan juices, iodine and bay leaf . In scent and emphasis it is quite apart from it's compatriots. Ethereal and harmonious, I keep picturing a burning but distant stick of incense. Bright and assertive in the mouth, meaty and the faintest suggestion of Hunter leather, though it tastes and feels clean and non affected. Mid weight and supple, perhaps it is fractionally short, but I find myself enamoured by the scent and ease.

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Another wine diamond

Date: Thu, Mar 28, 2013 Wine Tasting

The last cork was tainted, this one had a single jewel tooth and a sweet scent.


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Wendouree Shiraz Malbec 1999

Date: Thu, Mar 28, 2013 Wine Tasting

I was expecting something stern and unbowed, ginger scented perhaps, but with an iron grip and formidable, grasping tannins. Instead something attenuated and weak, smelling mostly of wet newspaper.
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Dujac Gevrey-Chambertin 2006

Date: Tue, Mar 26, 2013 Wine Tasting

More meat and animal than expected, the initial blush of strawberry and cherry is soon replaced by spice and fur. An opening kick of cola, but later it's more medicinal and savoury. A notable spine and fine, sticking plaster tannins. It's presently enjoyable but I'm unconvinced about its future.
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Head The Brunette 2011

Date: Sun, Mar 24, 2013 Wine Tasting

Being West Australian it's the white swans that I find disconcerting. . .

Tasted over two nights.

Day 1. Under a gum tree on a picnic rug close to a wide stretch of water. Quite possibly my thoughts were misplaced. Deeply scented, round and disarming. Mulberry, raw meat, chocolate and spice. Quite silken and smooth in the mouth with finely textured but assertive tannins.

A bottle image can be found here. The 2010 tasting note here.

Day 2. At home after an afternoon nap and with a plate of beef strog. It's much darker and with more edge and spice. Overnight it's grown and developed and become far more satisfying and complete. An adult perhaps.

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Frederic Magnien Nuits Saint Georges 2005

Date: Thu, Mar 21, 2013 Wine Tasting

More flattering than itssibling, though again any fruit is well hidden. Tobacco, rubber, earth and spice. A savoury, slightly roasted edge. Wonderful flow and movement across the palate; sappy, delicate and deliberate with curry leaf and sticking plaster tannins.

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Bean curd and seaweed soup - take 2

Date: Thu, Mar 21, 2013 Wine Tasting

An extraordinary day in Australian politics, in which very little was changed or achieved. I happened to be listening to the radio and so I heard most of the Crean press conference, in which he demanded a spill and declared his new allegiance to Rudd. I kept listening to question time and heard Gillard taunt her rivals, suggesting they give it their best shot and then I heard Rudd decline to make a challenge. Sound and fury but in the end nothing.

Coincidentally I too was moving in circles, cooking more or less the same meal as I did a year ago. This time with some improvements. The soup has several handfuls of chopped kale and a punnet of shimeji mushrooms, otherwise it is more or less identical to last years effort.

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Vinous notes: Castle Rock Pinot noir 2009

Date: Tue, Mar 19, 2013 Wine Tasting

wine as ink

My first tasting note written in wine.

A old Sheaffer fountain pen (? 60 years old and once belonging to my father) gathering dust, purged with water and filled with a few drops of Great Southern pinot noir. The ink is a little thin and spurts occasionally. . . For the nib spotters 14K - 585 33.

Flinty and dusty to begin, plum and plumb, eucalypt and curiously citrus peel. I've scribbled cow pat, but in retrospect that's unfair. Frontal and assertive, like something from Central Otago. Spice and weight, edged with bright acids, but it's thin and short in conclusion.

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Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2007

Date: Sun, Mar 17, 2013 Wine Tasting

If I were blind and only sniffing, I would have called it an 8 year old Australian Shiraz. A St Peters perhaps. . . Rosewood and dark berries, sweet oak, dust and ginger. Middle aged and starting to spread, but still with feet covered in earth, rubber and tapenade. Cork sealed and still vibrant and crimson, it's quite delicious; juicy and bright, spiced and ever so slightly cola like. Medium to full with plum and raw meat tannins. yes.

Hawkes Bay. NZ. 13.5%. Source: Cellar.

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How to love wine

Date: Sat, Mar 16, 2013 Wine Tasting

by Eric Asimov.

The dust cover is capital letter free. After reading the book you get the sense that this is intentional. It's a modest book with very little trumpet blowing. He freely admits his limitations and argues that sometimes what is taken as important (tasting notes, blind tasting, remembering facts) can get in the way of enjoyment.

I partly agree.

the flowery litany of aromas and flavours does little to capture the experience of a fine glass of wine. Yet because tasting notes are now the primary way we write about wine, people assume that they are the proper mode for thinking about wine, too. . .

In their overly specific effort to beat a wine into submission boil it down to its every last aroma and flavor, box it up and present it as fully known and understood, tasting notes become thoroughly off-putting and intimidating, leading directly to the sense of wine anxiety that so many people feel.

At best, tasting notes are a waste of time. At worst, they are pernicious. . .

The myriad flavors and aromas that wine writers strain so hard to extract from the glass tell you nothing of importance about a particular wine. And yet defenders of tasting notes insist they have something crucial to say.

He concludes that it may be better to be less specific, more general.

why not simply offer readers a general idea of the style they might find, with a few words on the quality as well. . . Omitting or simplifying tasting notes in no way panders to public ignorance about wine, because they are of such little value to anybody. But it would force wine writers to come up with smarter methods of conveying useful information, methods that fewer people would find threatening.

I partly agree - for instance -How would you describe a kookaburra?

Wine is potentially a complex and evocative fluid. We don't become effusive about fast food and cola for good reason. The aromas and flavours of wine are like a flower's nectar attracting us and drawing us in. We recognise and find pleasure in the familiar and the rare. Or brains are designed to recall and identify, it seems perverse then to deny what is a hard wired human capability.

I have a medical background (which makes me a determined clue spotter). I spent years learning new words and every day I am faced with a choice. Should I use my medical vocabulary or should I simplify. The answer is obvious. I avoid jargon when speaking to my patients, I use analogy and scribble pictures and point and gesticulate. It's sometimes clumsy and mostly not worthy of repetition, but it's effective (I hope). In contrast, when I write to a colleague or when I write my case notes I lapse back into specifics and aim for precision and clarity. To write and speak to a peer without the language of my profession would appear inarticulate and clumsy.

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Syrahmi Finesse 2011

Date: Fri, Mar 15, 2013 Wine Tasting

It was announced yesterday that Google reader is to finish on July 1. It's a reminder of how fragile technology is. We grow used to it, but it is constantly changing and sometimes it just reaches a conclusion and disappears. I frequent my Google reader page daily. It's how I keep up with the 200+ wine and food blogs I follow. It is of course a distracting and probably unnecessary ritual, but one I have grown fond of.

I write and publish most days. Comments are less frequent, but I'm nourished by the thought that people read and subscribe. According to Google reader I have 258 subscribers. It's not a large number, but equally this is an esoteric and un-promoted venture.

Like me I suspect my subscribers will be looking for an alternate RSS reader. I've been looking for something with no frills but functionality, and have decided to stump up an annual subscription to access the service offered by NewsBlur (where I have 7subscribers). . . and so the image.

Tasting note: The back label offers two definitions of finesse. I can accept both, while questioning whether it is a suitable descriptor for the wine. Anxious or wiry seems a better fit, especially to begin. Sap and rubber, wood polish and spice. Tart cola and juicy acidity to start, a sour edge and a smudge of tannins. It's the sort of off centre, slightly hard edge wine that I favour and enjoy. It does soften and expand, becoming less neurotic and more giving. A sweet core emerges and in weight and emphasis it (eventually) fits and fills the Heathcote shoe.

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Beef and Guinness pie with mushy peas

Date: Thu, Mar 14, 2013 Wine Tasting

beef and guinness pie

My second Pi day offering.

The pie filling (which would be enough for 2 pies)

2.5kg of beef short rib pieces
3 medium carrots - roughly chopped
750mls of Guinness
1.5L of veal stock
Cracked black pepper

Brown the pieces of beef in batches in a large pan and set aside. Add the carrots to the pan and then the beer and stock and now return the ribs. Season with pepper if desired. Simmer for 3 hours, occasionally spooning off the surface fat. When the beef is tender, remove the meat and carrots and turn up the heat so the sauce can reduce to approx 20% of the original volume. When the meat is cool enough break it into small 1-2cm pieces. Add a generous ladle of the reduced sauce and mix this with the caramelised onions.

Caramelised onions

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
30g of butter
1kg of brown onions - sliced
6-7 cloves of garlic - sliced
3-4 sprigs of thyme
2 tablespoons of flour

Add the fats to the pan and heat. Throw in the garlic/onions and thyme and cook at low - moderate heat for close to 60 minutes. Stirring every few minutes, so the bottom of the pan does not develop a coat of char. When the onions are medium brown add the flour, mix well and cook for a further few minutes.


250g flour
150g unsalted butter - cubed
110g of creme fraiche

Incorporate the flour and butter (Thermomix speed 6 for 10 seconds) then add the sour cream and kneed (thermomix kneed function for 20 seconds). Using your hands bring the dough into a ball and roll into two disc. Use 2/3 for the base and 1/3 for the lid. When rolled out (on silicon paper) place in the fridge till ready to use.

Construction and cooking

I used a buttered 24cm pie dish and one beaten egg as the egg wash to brush the pie prior to cooking at 180 degrees for approx 35 minutes.

Mushy Peas

2 medium potatoes - peeled and diced
600g of frozen peas
1 handful of mint
30g of butter

In a pot of water, cook the potatoes till soft. Add the peas and mint and cook for a further 2 minutes. Strain and then mash the peas and potatoes before adding the butter and pepper and incorporating.

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Silverbeet and bacon pie

Date: Wed, Mar 13, 2013 Wine Tasting

silverbeet and bacon pie

Pi day. . .

Shortcrust pastry: 250g plain flour / 150g unsalted butter cut into cubes / 1 egg yolk.
Process the flour and butter till it is granular. Add the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of water and process for a few more seconds. Bring together with your hands. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Filling: 450g of silver beet - leaves and stems (or use same amt of spinach) / 250 - 300g bacon or speck lardons (plus some guanciale off cuts if you have them) / 1 large onion diced / 5 eggs and the egg white not used in the shortcrust / 50g of Parmesan grated.
Cook the silverbeet in boiling water, drain and when cool squeeze out most of the water. Cook the bacon and when golden add the onions and cook till the onion is clear. Add this to the now cool silverbeet. Beat the eggs (save the bowl used for later) and add this with the cheese to the silver beet.

Construct the pie. Use a buttered tart tin and roll out the pastry. 2/3 for the base and the rest for the lid. When the base is in and trimmed, add the filling and top with a pastry lid. Brush with egg wash - use the remains from the filling after adding a splash of water. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 180 - 200 degrees C.

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