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(Bob Gregg, 5:14 am)

2008-10-03: Newk-yoo-lar

Having watched the Biden-Palin VP debate last night, one thing became very clear:

Never, ever again can America allow itself to elect an official who says “newk-yoo-lar” instead of nuclear. *shudder*

(Bob Gregg, 8:54 am)

2008-09-28: McCain’s huge Iraq mistake

There are some times in a debate when your opponent unknowingly lets his guard down. When that happens, you have to pounce and score some points. Sure enough, during last Friday’s debate, there was a really obvious moment when John McCain uttered something really unbelievable; but Obama let it slip away. (more >>)

(Bob Gregg, 7:50 am)

2008-09-26: A really large number

Of all the ludicrous things that have come out of this political season, perhaps the most ridiculous was a quote from someone in Treasury to Forbes.com on Tuesday:

“It’s not based on any particular data point,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”

Holy mackerel. I don’t know how you can think of things like this without your head just literally imploding from the vacuum of sense it entails.

(Bob Gregg, 10:24 pm)

2007-11-15: Nerello Mascalese

Nerello is a grape, or rather a pair of grapes, native to Sicily. The two Nerello brothers are Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. The Oxford Guide to Wine has very little to say about either Nerello, other than that they are usually used in blending. However, Etna Rosso is a DOC designation that involves blending the two together to produce a (potentially) lovely Sicilian wine.

(Bob Gregg, 10:59 pm)

2007-11-10: Airén

A quick note about the Airén grape - apparently it’s one of (if not the) most prolifically grown grapes in Spain, though hardly the most promising. Mostly used in bulk wines, I found it on the shelves of the local Giant grocery store in the form of Oroya White 2005, which is a blend of 60% Airén, 30% Macabeo (itself used in the production of Spanish Cava), and 10% Muscat. The muscat provides a sort of sweet aromatic element to the blend. The subtitle on the bottle says, “Created for Sushi”. I guess I could see that, though I found the overall combination to be a little too sweet for my taste. At $7, this was a one-time buy, indulged only for the sake of trying the Airén. Hopefully I’ll be able to find another, better representative during our upcoming trip to Spain.

(Bob Gregg, 8:29 pm)

2007-11-07: Fiano and Greco

A hearty recommendation for A-Mano Fiano-Greco 2006! I first had this off the menu at Bazin’s on Church back in the summer, and now I have found it for sale down at The Italian Store in Arlington (not on the shelves, oddly enough - only in the chiller in the back!). At $10.99 this is an absolute knockout of a white wine. It’s a blend of two grapes indigenous to the Calabria region of Italy (southwest part, down near Naples) - namely, Fiano and Greco. Both of these grapes are rising stars just coming to the common consciousness of the American wine drinking public. You can try them separately by looking for Fiano di Avellino or Greco di Tufo, both DOCG designations in their own right (and also both available through The Italian Store). Fiano has lovely aromatics, with citrus and other fruit and an aspect of nuts to it; Greco is apparently more acidic (though I haven’t had this by itself yet). Together in A-Mano’s 50/50 blend, they’re fantastic. This went absolutely perfectly with fresh pesto we made with the basil from our garden. I know I’m going to go back for this year after year.

(Bob Gregg, 12:05 pm)

2007-11-04: Pedro Ximinez

Pedro Ximinez is not the name of some Senator’s undocumented domestic labor - it’s the name of one of the primary grapes used in sherry. It’s indigenous to the southeast part of Spain, and I suppose pretty much synonymous with its use in sherry. In fact if you’ve had sherry, you’ve probably had PX in some quantity (though not necessarily 100% varietal).

We went with friends to Bazin’s on Church this weekend, and after dinner I wanted something a little sweet. On the menu was “PX”. I don’t know if this qualifies as sherry or not, to be honest; I’m not that knowledgeable about sherry. But I do know that as a dessert wine on its own, PX makes some nice sweet juice. The coolest part was that in addition to tasting like a beautifully nuanced, not-at-all-cloying finisher, it actually tasted quite recognizably like sherry - even though I don’t think it technically was. I don’t know how to explain it except to say that it had the same complex taste as lovely sherry. A very nice experience.

(Bob Gregg, 11:39 pm)

2007-10-28: Mavrodaphne

We went with friends to Zaytinya in downtown DC this weekend. If you’ve never been, it’s great - the Greek equivalent of a tapas restaurant, though more sophisticated than that I think. Anyway, they have a good selection of Greek and Middle Eastern wines, which I’ve sampled through in the past (including varietals like Xynomavro, Assyrtiko and others). This time, at the end of the meal I tried a Mavrodaphne, which I’d been wanting to do for a while.

Basically this red grape is grown in and around Patras for use in a relatively famous Greek dessert wine of the same name. I’ve seen different Mavrodaphnes on sale at Total Wine stores before. This particular bottle (I didn’t write down the exact name) reminded me of a young, aggressive version of ruby port. That is, it was a little sweet, with some caramel and creme bruleé, but also a lot of acid. It was nice, but not particularly special, and in fact an actual ruby port would probably have been nicer. Nevertheless, it was still a nice experience, and it’s a varietal to add to the life list.

(Bob Gregg, 8:00 pm)

2007-10-19: Hondarrabi Zuri

I finally had a chance to try one of the more exotic-sounding grapes last night, thanks to a pintxos (Basque tapas) festival being held at José Andrés’ Jaleo restaurant over the past couple of weeks. (more >>)

(Bob Gregg, 3:25 pm)

2007-10-18: Google Maps is scared of 66

I have tons of respect for the Google team, and use Google Maps on a near-daily basis. And not too long ago, they added an uber-cool feature that lets you drag and drop your route on their map. The first time I tried it I thought, WOW. That’s how this all should work. Except for one thing: it doesn’t work with I-66, just about the main artery in the DC area - which means it’s useless for me. (more >>)

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