Friday, April 29, Osborn’s Country Store, Duxbury, MA: Great wine display, plenty of store traffic, most of whom were more interested in cold Bud Light rather than tasting wine…
Saturday, April 30, Boston Comic Convention: Far more attention from the creators than the attendees, which is normal at East Coast comics venues. Dave scored a wolf man sketch from Gahan Wilson & Frank Cho’s new hardcover. Darwyn Cooke dedicated a “Man with the Getaway Face” page to me. Got a “100 Bullets” Dizzy cover rough from the Reverend Dave Johnson, he gave (“Corked” the comic) Dave a Megan sketch. Stephanie Buscema, a mutual friend of Isotope in San Francisco, invited us, along with Darwyn & the Rev, to her Teenage Satan Launch Party, with the Boston Babydolls Burlesque! We also got to spend some instructive time with Neal Adams, legend.
Sunday, May 1, more Boston Comic Convention, while our 09 Mira Luna, Tough Day Carneros Chardonnay was being poured at the opening reception for the newest location of Verona Salon, in Rockland, MA.
Wednesday, May 4, our 09 Mira Luna, Tough Day Carneros Chardonnay & 09 Red Brick Cellars, Tough Dame Cabernet Sauvignon infiltrated the NASDAQ opening bell ceremony.
Saturday, May 7, Free Comic Book Day, New England Comics, Quincy MA: We finally got to use our crossover art featuring Chenin and Kong with NEC’s mascot Bobo. [art] Ian Nichols of Fat Cat funnies contributed a sketch of the “Corked” cast for our site, www.corkedthecomic.com, under the “Where to Buy “drop-down. We saw plenty of old friends, but are still waiting for our copy of the photo of Mr T posing with a bottle of Tough Day Chardonnay…
Thursday, May 12, M3 USA, Customer Reception Cocktail Party, Sony Club, NYC: Not only did we get to re-purpose our Kong art, we were treated like the Pope and Elvis on tour by Fred Cabral & Kyle Walton. In spite of a brake problem on Amtrak, we made it with time to spare. Our turbaned cabbie was stopped by the police – profiling remains alive and well…We did not attempt to remove any of the original Audobons from the Sony Club walls, though we thought about it. Instead we used our art theft time for a visit from the newly minted Doctor of Music, Kristin Mozeiko. M3 CEO Aki Tomaru was the night’s first guest to have his caricature done. Taki prepared us a magnificent private supper and Dave did Keiko’s caricature. We maintained our NYC post-tasting traditions of drinks with Fred, my survey of the different local black & white cookies and Dave’s search for decent pizza after 10 PM in the general Times Square area.
Saturday, May 21, Wine Bunker, Reading, MA: The shop had put up a massive “Corked” display and we saw plenty of truly interested shoppers. We sold more than a case while still trying to set up, and went a huge amount of time – multiple hours - where everyone who tasted bought, no tire kickers, no junior wine critics. The Bunkah event far exceeded both our samples and sales plans. Most gratifying was to be repeatedly told by the customers that the other tables pouring – importers & wholesalers – didn’t bring anywhere near the value we delivered with their wines, their tasting set-ups, customer take-away and extras, like Dave’s caricatures.
Friday & Saturday, June 10 & 11, Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA: An art controversy at the eleventh hour caused us to change our flyers. A Tough Day Rescue Kit shipping fiasco was rescued by local retailer Joe Nejaime, my wife Allison, and Winetasting.com’s Brian Elliott & Laine Adderley. We were outside Friday, inside Saturday, for two nights of receptions for the opening of the stunning Blue Sky Studios exhibit. We saw about 350 guests, including animation principals Peter de Seve and Chris Wedge, who had kind words for “Corked”.
Sunday, June 11, Route 7 Grill, Great Barrington, MA: Here we finally got to first use our intended-for-the-Norm art. [art] This event included 3 Winetasting.com wines I had put in the bottle and evolved into six wines framing a four course meal with local foods. The Route & Grill remains the preferred place to dine in the Berkshires. [menu 2 via Dave]
Monday, June 12, Nejaimes Wine Cellars, Lenox, MA: Excellent turn out for a Monday – moved about 4 cases for our local retailer in a modest amount of time.
Saturday, June 18, Wine Nook, Townsend, MA: Sothida Vanthan made us feel like visiting royalty – she put out nice cheese, fruits, and nuts plates for her customers and had the store staff already clad in Tough Dame Cab t-shirts when we arrived. We saw many other interesting outfits throughout the day too. We moved beaucoup wine for the shop, some to the multiple groups of friends of Dave who stopped by to visit. Everyone working this event seemed to really enjoy themselves more than we normally observe. We were pleased to meet mega-cool Wine Blogger Andy Geancopoulos. It’s not often we’re visited by wine writers that can reference Russ Meyer’s “Faster Pussy Cat! Kill! Kill!” and discuss Neon Park’s cover art to “Weasels Ripped my Flesh” by Frank Zappa.
Wednesday, June 22, private party, Scituate, MA: Outside under tents in a downpour, but we never stopped pouring, peddling & drawing. We suspect the local “Corked” retailer will be the biggest winner here…
Friday, June 24, Gypsy Kitchen, Quincy, MA: I stopped in to lend a hand during her normal Friday afternoon tastings, which included both of our reds, as a “special surprise guest”. While there I got to spend some time tasting with Tony from Bistro Chi and Nancy Pedruzzi McNulty, from the old Traveling Vineyard days. Love it that she has vintage Atlantic period Coltrane going each time that I’m in the shop. Dave is now doing some art for proprietor Lisa Lamme.
Saturday, June 25, Main Course Market, Canton, MA: This is one busy gourmet market! They move more Mira Luna Crusher & Stemmer Red than any of our trade accounts. Here we got to use our intended-for-the-Norm art in its final form. Moved plenty of “Corked” wines to the regular shop customers, plus lots of groups of friends & family came by. And my supper from there was terrific.
As our experiences increase with wine tasting and we get more comfortable, we sometimes develop limited explanations or make associations according to our present knowledge of wine.
For example, I recently had the pleasure of pouring wine on behalf of Winetasting.com for hundreds of people at the Fancy Food Show in DC. I had many people ask, “Is that wine sweet?” My answer was, “Well, it depends on how you define sweet. Do you mean sweet like sugar or sweet as in a wine with lot of forward fruit?” I was able to ascertain by their answer what they perceived as sweet, but I realized that I did not know myself what the technical definition of a “sweet” wine is.
This experience made me realize how important it is that we continually seek to refresh and increase our level of wine knowledge. Wine is a complex subject that requires continual education which is also what makes it so intriguing. I found this refresher on fruit, alcohol, acidity and sweetness, the four main components that create the flavors in wine, to be particularly helpful.
The one fruit that wine seldom tastes of is grapes. That is why wine has fascinated the world for centuries. But why is that? It is because of the fermentation and aging processes involved in winemaking that produce an enormous array of chemical compounds which take the flavor of wine way beyond grapes.
Alcohol is a product of fermentation when yeasts act on sugars present in the grape juice, resulting in alcohol. Because the level of alcohol is directly related to the level of sugars present, the riper the grapes, the higher the alcohol...as in the case of late harvest and dessert wines. Alcohol is what gives a wine its weight and body. It is what contributes to the mouthfeel and balance and helps the wine to age gracefully.
Acidity is necessary to both flavor and for its preservative qualities. Acidity is also what makes a wine taste refreshing and balances the fruit flavors with the weightiness of alcohol. Acidity comes mostly from grapes, and partly from the fermentation process. The main acids present in wine are tartaric acid, malic acid, and lactic acid.
Sweetness in wine is optional. Yeast, if left to itself will usually ferment all the sugar present and turn it into alcohol. The definition of sweetness is measured in grams per liter of residual sugar. A wine can be legally dry with up to 10 grams per liter of residual sugar. A medium-dry wine can have between 10-20 grams of sugar, a medium-sweet wine will have 20-30 grams per sugar and a sweet wine will have 30 grams per liter, maybe more.