Archive for June, 2008

“T.U.I.” – or: “WBC and copyright issues”

Monday, June 30th, 2008


Copy Cat


It’s been a rough week and I’ve really indulged tonight. The wine I am drinking is helping keep the distractions in my mind at bay. And that’s a good thing. There is a lot going on in my life and in my head. The common thread through it all is: “legacy”.

This weekend, I was reading an L.A. Times piece about the AP coming to a head with bloggers over copyright issues. This reminded me of a conversation I had at the time of J.K. Rowling’s law suit against the operator of a Harry Potter fan site. For me, this all ties in with the resurgence of interest in and discussion of organizing the wine blogging world and the legacy that will forge. (more…)

Wine, American style

Thursday, June 26th, 2008


Wine, American style.

Wine, American style.

In discussions elsewhere, I have stated my support for a region-based (rather than variety-based) appellation and labeling system in the US. I firmly believe that greater wine quality (and global standing of American wine) can be achieved through matching grape to site.

Dan Berger, in his recent piece on Appellation America, says that due to the “spirit of the free-enterprise system” and the lack of a “legal model that mandated which grapes could grow where and still carry the regional name, a regional-naming system was doomed“. The system was embraced by the consumer who now drives and propagates it. Worse, though, this drive to satisfy mainstream preferences and demand seems to be affecting a trend towards soulless wine. (more…)

Blinded by science.

Monday, June 23rd, 2008


Scientist - by Stephen Sweny.

Scientist - by Stephen Sweny

Many years ago a study was published which found that children who had been verbally, emotionally or physically abused were likely to smoke cigarettes as adults. Forgive me for not providing a citation, but bear with me, because this study might as well be fictional, given where I’m going with this.

Being mean and cruel to your kids turns them into cigarette smokers!” might have concluded some observers. “These kids were brats and their parents were not abusing them. They were administering tough love. These ‘bad’ kids were bound to smoke anyways.” other might have said.

It appeals to conventional American logic that stressed out kids grow up to carry those stresses into adulthood and seek solace in inhaled nicotine. But are these things really related? Can there be a causality established between those childhood experiences and adulthood nicotine addiction? (more…)

Goodbye, Mr. Conductor

Monday, June 23rd, 2008


George Carlin

George Carlin.

One of my all-time favorite comics, George Carlin, died yesterday.

I really don’t have heroes or people I idolize. I see traits and qualities in everyone which are worthy emulating. My favorite thing about George was the when he smelled bullshit, he called it what it was.

I liked his unconventional way of looking at conventional things. In all parts of our society (even in science and medicine) certain notions become “accepted wisdom” and then “dogma”. It was Carlin’s way of looking behind the facade and questioning the validity of some assumptions that really resonated with me. Sure, he could be irreverent, absurd and even profane, but his material always reminded me that we should never complacently accept the party dictum. (more…)

Before it all went wrong

Friday, June 20th, 2008


Young Anna Nicole Smith

Young Anna Nicole Smith.

In a post on his blog, New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov says: “…too many American pinot noirs are simply too big, not so much in alcohol but in body and sweetness“.

Along with others, I have said that the trend of increasing ripeness in California wine has become a runaway train. But it’s not just ripeness and sweetness that are of issue to Asimov (and those of like mind). These wines go beyond rich, corpulent, full-bodied or bold. Some of these pinots are grotesque monstrosities. This is no coincidence or a product of the climate. It is a conscious and deliberate decision on the part of producers. Besides farming practices and harvesting decisions, cellar practices are employed by winemakers seeking to appeal to (or appease) the mainstream preferences. (more…)

Buckeyed about wine

Thursday, June 19th, 2008


Aesculus glabra - the Ohio Buckeye Horse Chestnut


A few days ago, Mark Fisher wrote in his blog, Uncorked, about Ohio’s new Quality Wine Program.

This program, sponsored by the Ohio Grape Industries Committee and the Ohio State University Agricultural Research and Development Center’s Viticulture and Enology Program, is intended to elevate the status of Ohio’s wines made from Ohio grapes. There is also more detail here.

Part of this includes creating a “rating system based on industry standards to identify the best estate-grown wines in Ohio”. A mark would be applied to those wines meeting or exceeding the criteria set forth by the program. While I commonly support standardization and certification endeavors, my purpose here is not to defend the practice. (more…)

Wine: a “diet in a bottle”?

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008


Adipose tissue under microscope. HistoWeb:

Adipose tissue.

German scientists have announced yet another finding supporting resveratrol‘s role in the French Paradox. The key discovery reported here is that resveratrol is capable of reducing the number of fat cells in humans. A summary can be found here.

This made my ears perk up, because, for the most part, the number of fat cells in an individual’s body is pretty constant from puberty to death. In most instances, it is the contents of the cells and not their number that increases as we put on “padding”. There are some extreme conditions, though, when preadipocytes – the precursor cells capable of developing into mature fat cells – can be induced to change into mature fat cells. Additionally, our reserve of “on-call” preadipocytes is pretty constant, changing only under extreme circumstances. (more…)