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« Why Women Can't Sleep | Main | Happy Holidays And A Blogging Hiatus »

December 19, 2008


Great post, Andrew. The correlation between mellowing of wine, high energy electric field and (possibly) the human scholar's brain, sounds quite plausible. Love the idea of the "prison-house of language." I am currently reading Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies (review to come soon). Ghosh has played so fast and loose with colloquial and antiquated Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Arabic spoken with a 19th century British accent that I am wondering if English speaking readers can decipher head or tail of some of the passages. Fortunately, I can and I am making progress at a good clip.

When it comes to wine though, I am an uninitiated novice. Although I drink a glass or two when with friends or during festive occasions, I know nothing about the beverage. But I do buy a fair quantity of wine for the household or as gift. My rule of thumb has always been: if the label on the bottle is pleasing, the content usually also is. Seems to work for me every time. I don't pay exorbitant sums for a bottle of wine and have never bought it Trader Joe's. Can someone tell me what the cut off price is for wine to be considered "cheap?"

Maybe two-buck chuck?

Not much of a wine-drinker here as well, can't handle more than a couple of sips of any type whether it cost 2 bucks or a thousand.Give me plain old Welch's grapejuice any day!

But the problem with cheap wine isn't that it hasn't sufficiently aged. And then there are those chichi young "nouveaux" quaffers, of which Charles (hard CH, terminal S) Shaw produces a seasonal variety. Scientifically speaking, it ain't half bad. I cook with the Shiraz all the time. Good in a ragu or chili.

I agree that one gets what one pays for...usually. However, that very principle can sometimes best be enjoyed in the breach. A relatively inexpensive Provencal wine has legs that'll run circles around a big tubby California Cabernet. I'm with Ruchira: judge by the label. Even so, there are those stark labels--such as the Chateau Puligny de Montrachet rouge--that nevertheless betoken an elegant wine, simple but confident. (Fair emulation of bad wine writing, eh?)

Price? It's creeping up, of course, but I still think very good cheap wines are to be had hovering around ten bucks, give or take twenty percent. A store here in Berkeley has a number of reasonably priced bottles--say, fifteen to twenty dollars--that are worth the premium, although more careful shopping (i.e., online) might hit on the same wine at ten percent less. Even so, I only buy the stuff when I'm heading to a dinner with friends.

Finally, as for Jameson's prison house, I've been reading and rereading some of Charles Altieri's work lately. He isn't interested in escaping the refractive effects of language altogether, but he does make a case for considering the "painterly" aspects of poetry and for respecting the value of literary works that manage largely to sidestep narrative, e.g., work by the so-called L=A=N=G=U=A=GE poets.

Hi Ruchira,

I agree with Dean that going beneath 10 bucks is a bit risky. However, I found that the Chilean producer Casillero del Diablo makes a drinkable Cabernet and Carmeniere for between 7-9 bucks.

And I definitely look forward to the Amitav Ghosh review -- I have been hearing a lot about the book.

As for the attempt to step outside narrative and focus on form: if I understand Jameson correctly, the attempt to "go postmodern" and reject narrative, is its own weird kind of narrative -- an anti-narrative narrative, if you will.

I may not be such a rank novice after all, when it comes to wine. My budget is usually between $12 - 20 (max) per bottle, sometimes a bit less when it is marked down by a couple of dollars. Also, I concur that lower priced Chilean wines are superior to the similarly priced American and European counterparts. There are some interesting varieties of Texas wines too that I have bought at the recommendation of the seller.

"Go by the beauty of the label" remains a good guide in wine buying for me. Some wines with simple stark labels actually qualify. The Aussie label Penfolds is a good example - great tasting beverage at reasonable prices. I remember tasting an amazingly wonderful Basque house wine in an unpretentious restaurant in Barcelona which didn't cost an arm and a leg like it sometimes does in high end restaurants in the US.

Andrew: Hope to have the review of Sea of Poppies out before I take off for the holidays.

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