Mail Bonding

In Brown Bag, we like to feature comments and suggestions passed on from you, the budding wine fanatics. We publish the entries that are relevant to other readers, such as wines you enjoyed, interesting questions and cool stuff you've encountered.

Sometimes it even gets amusing. Back in January, Jake called us "whiny slops" for our column on bringing your own wine to restaurants (Jan. 3, 2002 issue):

You say "The art of dodging rip-off restaurant wine prices." Obviously you've never actually worked in a restaurant or maintained an inventory of wine. Sure it might be $8 retail, but do you know where all that cost is going, besides the insurance it takes to have the privilege to open it? I am a 15-year veteran on both sides, a wine/liquor salesman and a waiter. I am revered for my mass knowledge and willingness to share. I covet wine as an "art" and demand that it is appreciated. Your article throws it in the stinky trash heap in the alley.

This is what we non-snobs rally against: egoistic "revered" people who are paid to perpetuate the wine mystique. Last time I checked, wine was a beverage, not a religious icon or an art form. And most of the time, restaurants do parade ripoff wine prices. A markup of three times over cost is outrageous (no matter what the insurance cost), so wine ends up on a pedestal of inflated prices, driving people to drink beer and liquor. Come on, restaurant owners, not only do you perpetuate wine elitism, you discourage newbie wine drinkers from exploring.

Robin wrote: I read your wine column every week. A friend of mine who is knowledgeable about wines mentioned something the other day about a Parker rating for a wine. What is a Parker rating for a wine?

Robert Parker is a fascinating, very influential American wine critic who writes a bimonthly newsletter called The Wine Advocate. There are differing opinions of his reviews, which fall on a 50- to 100-point scale, but he is unquestionably skilled, unbiased and honest. He really likes big, bold wines — especially the obscure, impossible-to-find wineries — usually costing more than $20. He's useful, but really only to enthusiasts.

Patricia wrote (in reaction to the May 29, 2002 column): I dearly love those New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, and my Kiwi husband and I are on a crusade to spread the word about his home country's delicious white wine ... I have to point out, however, that New Zealand consists of not one "small, compact island", but two islands, the North Island and the South Island. Together, the landmass of the two islands is roughly equivalent to that of the state of Colorado, and the population of the country hovers around 4-million. (And most Kiwis would say that Australia is an island off the coast of New Zealand, not the other way around.)

I stand humbly corrected in my embarrassed state (Editors' Note: So do we!). New Zealand is indeed a double-island country with plenty of room to grow their fabulous fruit. Thanks for the correction.

Lori wrote: I am a dedicated reader of your column and a dedicated wine drinker. I read your recent column on Australian wines. I agree that they are fabulous. My question to you is where to buy Kim Crawford?

Quite a few readers ask for help finding wines mentioned in the columns. We run only reviews of wines available in the market, but sometimes the smaller wineries can be difficult to locate. If you're having trouble, take the column to your local friendly wine shop and ask for assistance. More often than not, they will stock it, and if they don't, they'll be happy to order some for you.

Please keep the feedback coming. We welcome any wine questions, comments and suggestions you can throw at us.

Contact the writers of Corkscrew at [email protected], 1310 E. Ninth Ave., Tampa, FL 33605).

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