Tuesday, June 29, 2010

White Noise

First tasting, first slip. God knows why we cannot follow instructions. If we had been assembling an IKEA bookshelf, we would have ended up with a hen pen instead. Yes, we had a jolly old time Saturday night but the "experiment" itself was tainted as soon as we ignored three of our five cardinal rules.

Mistake #1: The tasting involved eight of us instead of just The Wife, Ph.D., and me. The Brother-in-Law, his girlfriend Double Trouble, Cousin #1, the Graphic Designer and wife, and My Life Coach decided to crash the event. Of course, they were welcomed with open arms and buckets of wine. What's life without friends who drink anyway?

Mistake #2: We had a proper dinner prior to the tasting. Chicken, pork and vegetable fajitas with all the fixings. Yes, ladies, I blog, drink and cook. But little else beyond that so don't get your hopes up.

Since we were eight now, I sent the Brother-in-Law and Cousin #1 to track down a few more bottles of Xynisteri. Obviously, it was nowhere to be found and we had to settle for Kyperounda's Chardonnay. Then I made the horrific mistake of saving the Xynisteri for its proper tasting during the match and served the Chardonnay with dinner. Let's just say that my taste buds were overcooked rigatoni by the time the referee gave start to the second-half and the Xynisteri tasted like watered-down Carlsberg.

Mistake #3: Five bottles were consumed. Two 2008 Kyperounda Chardonnay, two 2009 Kyperounda Petritis Xynisteri and one (nodding my head in shame) "My Portuguese Namesake" rose. That last bottle alone is an insult to Dionysus.

Some comments on the wines (except for "My Portuguese Namesake" rose which was chugged by Double Trouble once Asamoah Gyan pushed Bocanegra out of the way to score the decider for Ghana):

2008 Kyperounda Chardonnay - Light bouquet. Too much oak and a buttery finish. High acidity. Not to my liking. 82/100.

2009 Kyperounda Petritis Xynisteri - Pleasant floral bouquet with notes of jasmine and honey. Crisp with decent balance. 88/100.

Overall Football-Watching Experience: 4 out of 5 thanks to the large quantities of alcohol consumed, the fantastic company, and a 2-1 defeat for the Evil Empire.

Second Tasting: June 29, Spain vs. Portugal
Wine: 2008 Domaine Vlassides Shiraz (red)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Game On: The Rules

It sucks living with a scientist. Many Cypriot wives nag about the lack of help they receive at home or the fact that they do not own a classic Louis Vuitton handbag or a BMW X5. The Wife, Ph.D., however, has been complaining non-stop about my wine-and-football experiment's methodological flaws. "What are your dependent and independent variables? What about the control group? Do you have a hypothesis?" Blah, blah, blah and so on.

The only true reason I designed these football-themed tastings (and the blog, to be honest with you) is to provide me with a valid excuse to uncork a bottle on a school night or too early in the afternoon. Yeah, go ahead and call me an alcoholic. In any case, to please the woman's scientific obsessive compulsiveness and rest my ears, here are some ground-rules:

z. One bottle per match. We wouldn't want to end up drunk and REALLY enjoying ourselves.

y. Only The Wife Ph. D., and myself will be involved in each tasting. My fancy friends are not reliable enough at this stage of the gig.

x. The white and rose will be consumed at our beach house (that's how us pimps roll) while the red and sweet at home. Light snacks will be served.

w. Each tasting will be graded on a 1-to-5 scale, 5 being the equivalent of Maradona's slalom-like goal against England in 1986 and 1 a romantic dinner date at Taco Bell with Bulgaria's Trifon Ivanov.

v. We have no control whatsoever over the quality of the matches. We simply hope the knock-out stages will provide us with some much needed drama. And we do understand this will influence our judgment but, hey, we just want to guzzle fermented grape juice.

First Tasting: June 26, US of their A vs. Ghana
Wine: 2009 Kyperounda Petritis Xynisteri (white)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wine And Football

On Sunday night, I was at the French Connoisseur's home watching Germany's demolition of the Australian team of geriatrics when his wife criticized his choice of beverage (a 2005 Listrac-Medoc) and suggested that football must be experienced with a chilled beer in hand. If I am not mistaken, her exact words were, "How can you watch football with wine?" Of course, her sentiment was shared by the Disney-obsessed man child who merrily dug into a bowl of barbecue-flavored chips and poured a KEO (his Mickey Mouse of beers) into a tall glass.

Like myself, the French Connoisseur was seduced by a Cypriot woman and tricked into joining her on The Rock. Love was then followed by a big fat Greek wedding and a marital contract that forbids us from leaving the island without written, notarized and stamped authorization. Okay, I exaggerate but you get the point. In any case, to pass time and boredom, the French Connoisseur began importing French wine, bottles upon bottles that must go through a grueling and rigorous quality control process involving his friends, hard cheeses and roast meats. So it goes without saying that when I am chez lui, drinking beer is the equivalent of going vegan (and asexual) in Buenos Aires.

Since this blog is about island wine projects, Sunday night's exchange got me thinking: Which Cypriot wine best goes with football? Red? White? Rose? Sweet? In fact, do any of them go with football?

So for the next four weeks, I will drink four different bottles of wine, each while viewing a different World Cup match, preferably from the Round of 16 or Quarterfinals. I have discarded the first round matches because, truth be told, the level of play has been sad (quasi-Rock level!) and one misses out on the sense of urgency teams have to deal with during single-elimination games. The only good that can come from drinking wine while watching a first round match is the drunker you get, the more magical it all seems. Like "beer goggles" sans the happy ending.

I have picked four bottles, all of them considered top of their class by local experts:

z. 2008 Domaine Vlassides Shiraz
y. 2009 Kyperounda Petritis  Xynisteri
x. 2009 Zambartas Rose Lefkada/Cabernet Franc
w. 2006 Agia Mavri Mosxatos Muscat

Also, I have excluded Commandaria because it reminds my co-conspirators (The Wife, Ph.D., et al) of communion and there's no need to mix football and religion. FIFA has already disallowed it so it only makes sense for me to do the same.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Introducing My Sancho Panza

I knew this blog would get me into trouble. I just never expected it to happen this soon. So, without further ado, I introduce to you:

[darkness] [drumroll] [explosion of lights immediately followed by Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"]

The Wife, Ph.D.

As my Sancho, she will perform the following duties:

z. Attend all wine-related events on The Rock whether she likes it or not. With her by my side, I gain loads of credibility and respect among the locals. My fancy friends help but the wife is The Wife, Ph.D.

y. Buy me expensive bottles of wine for my birthday, nameday, anniversary (we are twice married so booyah!), Valentine's, Ecuador's Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo, Oxi Day, Saint Patrick's, ad infinitum.

x. Build me a cava. Nuff said.

w. Never be embarrassed by my writing. It would help if she said it is vaguely reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's circa 1965.

v. Remind me ad nauseum that my penchant for alcohol is a genetic condition. As well as the main reason I am burly.

Monday, June 7, 2010

First Sips

Not too long ago, I started reading Lettie Teague's columns on wine for "Food & Wine" magazine. I love her playful style and the amusing wine-related games (i.e. tastings) she organizes for the sake of research.  In October 2008, for instance, she tricked her group of wealthy wine connoisseur friends into drinking a 1995 Washington State Cabernet/Merlot blend thinking all along it was a lauded ’82 Ch√Ęteau Mouton Rothschild. The fact that she always incorporates her fancy friends into her writing is also entertaining. Characters like The Collector, the CFO and others who do not hide behind humorous nicknames add a colorful dimension to her adventures throughout the wonderful world of wine.

The more I read, the more it made sense to me to do something similar here in Cyprus, a.k.a. The Rock. I have a wealth of friends (a French connoisseur, a guy who lost his sense of taste, a man-child obsessed with Disney) who would make for vibrant characters in my weekly ramblings as I work my way through The Rock's vineyards, wine specialty shops, bars, restaurants & hotels, and creative tastings. I can even foresee (wifeless) voyages together to Santorini, Sicily and/or New Zealand to taste unique island wines, eat buttery foods and meet the local, uh, female population.

With that said, welcome to Whine On The Rocks. Obviously, I do not have Teague's expertise, refined palate and writing skills but I will do my best to be honest and (occasionally) funny. And I apologize well in advance for any typos, sexual innuendo and politically incorrect remarks. Bear in mind this blog involves writing under the influence and drinking never fails to bring out the nasty in me.