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In Vino Veritas

Ok so this is going to be less coherent than usual (I know. But hold my beer) as my back is sore enough to make thinking even more of a challenge for the small simian head. No I haven’t actually done anything stupid, or lifted anything bigger than myself. It’s my pelvis that’s a bit out of alignment, a problem women often have after having babies. How I fit this category… is nearly as well as I fit most categories.

While my kids were at school back in South Africa, Barbara would drive them in from the farm and then go to work in ‘The Wine Cellar’ until they finished school. It was a specialist wine shop in a little village called Nottingham Road – it was heart of the Mink-and-manure horsey part of the country, cool and green, not what you think of as Africa. Thus there were plenty of customers for unusual and often expensive wines. Some of them knew something about wine. (My wife if from Cape Wine background so she was one of those who did). It was a fascinating if not very well-paying job, and gave her something to do besides sit at home with a husband who might well call her by the current heroine’s name, if he spoke at all.

There were a couple of thousand labels – mostly wine but they carried beers and unusual spirits as well. Barbs was expected know something about at least the varietal and vintage, and the ‘if you like such-and-such, you should try so-and-so. The owners operated under a very sensible ‘a happy customer is a return customer’ and not ‘how much profit can we make off this customer by selling them expensive crap’ model. They’d built up a substantial family business from almost nothing as a result, but it wasn’t fast or easy. There were always tasting bottles open, and there were larger tasting events every couple of weeks. Winemakers heading for the bigger centers loved coming – especially those from the smaller wineries. Not only were owners knowledgeable and hospitable – they’d also get a crowd of 50-100 people which they didn’t share with any other wine-maker, and almost inevitably placing orders (I know one tasting sold around 200 cases. Poor little guy was expecting to sell about 5-10 and had brought 20 cases with him, including his tasting stock. And he still had several stops. He came back every year after that.) Also, quite a lot of these people could tell white from red without a color chart – and hadn’t just come to drink free wine.

Now, you can produce a surprising amount of wine off a relatively small acreage, it was trendy, socially acceptable, and potentially very profitable – production costs for a $1.50 bottle were not that vastly different for a $150 bottle. The cellar took all stock on consignment – they would return unsold or unsellable bottles – so huge wineries with thousands of acres under grapes were on the racks, next to the place that had five acres and made one label. The problem wasn’t so much getting in there (as it would have been in a general bottle-store) as getting the customer to pick your Chardonnay out of a hundred.

If this sounds a bit like a bookstore… it’s because, yes, this was not dissimilar. A specialist bookstore, with shop attendants who read, knew and loved the product.

I certainly enjoyed her working there, and I really didn’t mind at all when she brought work home, or I had to attend her work events. Wine tasting were a great chance to taste wine, and study characters. It was something of an education, and not just about wine.

Success, sadly, did not always go to the best winemakers (There were some real geniuses. I learned that it is possible to make vastly different wines from the same grape, same block of land – just different processing –again, very like writing) The problem was just how (especially outside that specialist environment, where the hand-selling was effective, and the staff knew and tasted the wine) you actually got noticed.

Again: very like the book world. The place was like the handful of Independent bookstores where I’ve often way outsold what I had in the nearest B&N.

It was also a great insight into marketing and the response of people to marketing – very like books again, the problem was getting enough customers to even pick up your bottle. It was easier and worse here, as bottles were racked – in grape varietals – and every kind just got one display bottle. So Tassenberg (mass produced Cheap red, comparing favorably to a well-aged Kerosene with delightful undertones of hangover) would get the same display as Alto Rouge (A large estate producing a reliable a plummy heavy red, good for hand-to-hand combat, with a sweaty saddle bouquet bespeaking its Shiraz component), as would Joe’s 2 acre Froggy Farm Red blend. Now this was a vast improvement on a typical wine section in a South African Bottle Store, where there’d be a thousand bottles of Tassies on display, twenty of the Alto, and Froggy farm wouldn’t even get into the store, or if it did would be on a bottom shelf in the dark corner. Once again – the book selling world writ large.

Of course there were hundreds of boutique to medium sized wineries, all just trying to get noticed, in any shop. Sometimes they were just trying to get into the shops at all. Yes. Just like books. It’s never been an even playing field. There were very different strategies.

One of the saddest parts of this were the smaller guys who made pretty good wine (not absolutely head-and-shoulders the best – but the kind of wines that were consistently in the top 5%. Depending on tastes, they would easily have been ‘the best’ for some buyers.) Unfortunately, make good wine was all they could do. They didn’t play the politics needed to win prizes (or as it turned out, pay bribes for ranking). If you thought that the literary world was only area that the Awards and review process was a crock, think again). At marketing they sucked.

Awards, however might have sold the wine to big bottle-shops – but they really had fairly little impact on the buying public – probably because even the most gullible buyer soon figured out that a Gold medal seemed to mean it tasted like it came out of the nether end of a cat, and had a bouquet of draino. Anyone who bought much wine steered around ‘award winning’ – but it did get them into the bigger shops. Not that we’ve seen ANYTHING like this in the book world. Never.

The next thing all too many aspirants followed was ‘fashionable-vin-du-jour’ – someone would produce something great in a hitherto minor or obscure cultivar or style – get noticed, and you’d have fifty wineries suddenly produce the same thing. And, because the first was good, some of the first on the new bandwagon would make money because people tried it– and trash their reputations for producing good wine. The rest… the slower ones, mostly might as well have stuck to what they did well, rather than follow fashion. It never sold well. The saddest of these were always the fashions the industry thought really cool and going to go somewhere – that the public didn’t. I suspect that’s a huge problem in Trad at the moment. They’re all over queersexual and gender fluid and whatever… but are readers?

Curiously, the same trend followed through the artwork on wine labels. You’d get the lesser known wines following fashions. We saw everything from mud-colors to what looked like Irene Gallo’s taste in art… come and go. The wine industry is a lot harsher than the trad book industry. They won’t support incompetent asshats that don’t appeal to the public, not for long. The big brands tend not to do the it anyway: what they have to sell is their recognition – and, rather like the real market for sf/fantasy customers like to look at a cover and have some idea what they’re getting – there is some requirement to meet their expectations. Seriously – if you’re trying to sell your book signal content to expectations. Live up to them. No, it isn’t the route to quick wealth – but it isn’t the route to probable failure.

Of course there are literally thousands of attempts – funny labels, weird shaped bottles, ones that stand at an angle – gimmicks per se, to get noticed. The curious thing about these is that some do outsell, often, short term, that small guy who just makes great wine with an ordinary label.

Some of them ended up doing very well. Think of them as Scalzi taping bacon to his cat gimmick catching attention. It got the bottle noticed, the wine was ok, showing potential. It lifted the wine high enough that it didn’t matter that it didn’t actually get any better, and the subsequent years were a slow downhill trend. It was no longer one bottle competing with 50 other bottles. It had its own shelf in the supermarket. The specialist wine shops don’t carry it, because it is expensive plonk. But it’s in the supermarkets.

What one misses in this is that for every one that makes it – a thousand trash themselves. Firstly the hard-core wine buyers steer away from ‘gimmicks’ (a funny label, a skew bottle… great for a joke-gift, don’t drink it.) It’s almost always mediocre at best, and usually bad. I’m not sure it’s quite as bad in the book-world… but you can go too far. I mean you get noticed all right – like Boggy Whatsiface having a loud public melt-down tantrum about the fact its made-up ‘preferred pronoun’ didn’t get used by Worldcon. It is famous, you know. At least as many people as there are in the Tor office and their camp followers (nomination numbers have dropped to trivial) must have voted for it. Boggy got noticed… but how many readers outside that circle – will being the subject of rolled eyes and laughter get you? Trust me, even being able to climb palm trees and throw coconuts with my feet didn’t do that well for me.

The key is to get noticed, but not in the way the puke-covered wino downing the slop-buckets at wine-tasting does. When you do get noticed, have something that readers will enjoy, not mutter about being suckered.

 

56 Comments
  1. When I was in college the second time, I’d go by the wine-n-booze shop on the far end of the Student Quarter. They had a decent selection, and staff who actually liked wine. So I could go in and say, “Hi. I’m looking for something dry but a little fruity, less than $20. What do you recommend? It will go with vegetables.” And they’d direct me to something pretty decent. Or I’d head to the heavy red wines. “Hi. What’s in from Argentina that goes well with a beef roast?” The guys probably thought I was a bit odd, but never challenged my requests and always recommended something that worked better than I’d hoped for.

    Would that book stores and other media outlets were as good at working with customers instead of jumping up and down and shrieking, “No! You’re going to buy this $400 pinot noir and you will like it, you ignorant swine!”

    July 30, 2018
    • That last line gets my response of, “First, assume I am a cheap bastard…” and let them deal with that being NOT MY PROBLEM. That’s assuming I haven’t walked out and went to whatever competing shop was about.

      Years and years and years ago there was a small music/book/etc. store in $HOOTERVILLE that had a fair but not great selections. They were, however, willing to check if they could get things – and usually could. When they were bought out by a Big Name, the local selection dropped, one to ask if anything could be ordered, and the answer was usually “no.” They didn’t last long.

      I’m sure someone analyzing said, “$HOOTERVILLE can’t support $BigName.” but it could support the previous just fine… ’twasn’t murder, ’twas suicide.

      July 30, 2018
    • Denver had a bookstore when I moved in (still do, but it’s now very different in management) that was run by a hardcore mystery fanatic. When came in and said “I’m living in a hotel room with a toddler while I try to find an apartment and I’m going nuts” they piled me with funny, stress relieving books, many of them used, because I also told them I was broke.
      Due to this, they got my business for the next ten years. I’d go in and fill two large bags twice a year. Then I noticed the stock had changed and was “what is being pushed.”
      The lady who used to own it retired and people bought it for whom it was just a business. I haven’t been back in YEARS. (Yes, kindle also contributes to that, but not only.)

      July 30, 2018
  2. Not to mention that Boggy’s pronoun appears to have been a victim of autocorrect rather than malice. (Pretty obvious what any modern word processor is going to do to ‘e’ and variants when encountered as apparent typos.) But never attribute to accident or mistake what can be shrieked about in the pursuit of visibility and relevance.

    Kinda like loudly breaking your wine bottle, or burning your books, to attract customers… you might get a lot of “What’s this mess??” but damn few sales…

    [Friend in South Africa says there’s still wine to die for… sadly, none has made it to the wilds of Montana. Did some cruising in Streetview… ye gods, SA is a beautiful country…]

    July 30, 2018
    • SheSellsSeashells #

      This is why I’m pleased that I have no taste in wine. I enjoy a good red if somebody picks it out for me, but left to my own devices it’s plum and/or muscadine wine all the way. 🙂

      July 30, 2018
      • Aye, it’s amusing in its own way that $HOUSEMATE and I have gotten picky about beer, about liquor, about coffee, about tea… but as long as wine isn’t truly bottom-end plonk, it’ll do just fine.

        July 30, 2018
        • Look for Portuguese whites. (I haven’t found the GOOD reds in country yet, though Melissa Green bought me one I loved once, so I’d best ask her.)
          They’re very cheap for the quality. You can usually get them for under 10 and they’re easily worth two or three times that. My favorite is verde white because it’s the table wine of my region.
          I know NOTHING about wine, because we usually used what we grew.

          July 30, 2018
          • Some time ago I ordered some retsina and also a Portuguese Verde white. I recall liking it.

            July 30, 2018
  3. “They’re all over queersexual and gender fluid and whatever… but are readers?”

    Not this reader. The quickest way to get me to avoid your books (not just the current one, but all your books) is to stress the identity politics of it over the story.

    July 30, 2018
    • The quickest way to get me to avoid a book is to make a fuss about the character’s orientation, and then put in big weird love scenes.

      Nobody makes a fuss when the MC is straight, and I skip the straight love scenes. They’re usually boring, sometimes distasteful and occasionally disturbing. How much more am I going to skip the deliberately upsetting ones?

      Newsflash to edgy authors/publishers, most of us are not reading to -increase- our level of emotional distress. Personally I’m more than distressed enough just driving to the office, thanks very much.

      July 30, 2018
    • BrionyB #

      And when the publisher makes a big deal of the author’s identity credentials. That tells me they’re more interested in virtue signalling than publishing good books, and that the author was probably chosen for their “diversity” rather than their ability to tell a good story. Neither gives me confidence that the book will be worth my money.

      July 30, 2018
      • adventuresfantastic #

        “the author was probably chosen for their “diversity””

        For some reason, this year’s Hugo nominees came to mind…

        July 30, 2018
    • Mind you, gender-fluid is one of the things I’ve played with since forever because the divide of men and women is fascinating to reimagine, break, reposition.
      But no politics. I just find it interesting. Oh, and yeah, you might have heard I just write straight white males. That’s what the other side tells me.

      July 30, 2018
      • Dang, I bet some of your characters were surprised to discover that they’re straight! Must have been a heckuva shock. Not to mention whoever thought they could give Athena a sex change. Yipes!

        July 30, 2018
        • Shhhh. Athena got a sex a change. One of the few times I could do it. But the previous work was a short story and never published. Actually I don’t think I have any copies. (whistles.)
          But yes, Kate and I joke about our “gateway” writing. Hers lands in “bastard street” probably by the port of a decayed city. Mine lands in the equivalent of New Orleans.

          July 30, 2018
      • adventuresfantastic #

        Playing with I usually don’t mind, depending on the author’s definition of “playing with”.

        Having an agenda crammed down my throat in the interest of “diversity” or “your own good”, no.

        If gender is the main point of the story, I’ll probably take a hard pass.

        July 30, 2018
        • For the record, I HATE sex scenes in even romance novels. I believe they’re best left to the reader’s imagination.
          Meh. Usually they’re “factors contributing to.”
          I mean, seriously the many ways of being sexual aren’t science fiction (or fantasy except in specialized senses) so what’s the point?

          July 30, 2018
          • BrionyB #

            It’s not that I hate sex scenes, but I do tend to skim over them in the same way I skim over fight scenes or battles (in the latter case, I just want to know who won).

            Maybe this is me being weird, but I think I am just bad at visualizing from the written word, so any lengthy description of physical action with no dialogue does nothing for me. And yes, in a romance, what happens in the bedroom itself is usually less interesting than the story of how they got there.

            July 30, 2018
            • No, I get you completely. I don’t have a visual imagination, which handicaps my writing. And fight scenes need to be extremely well written (I recommend Larry) for me to read them.

              July 30, 2018
          • adventuresfantastic #

            Agreed.

            July 30, 2018
            • adventuresfantastic #

              I was agreeing with Sarah. BrionyB’s comment posted while I was typing. (I rather like battle scenes.)

              July 30, 2018
              • ONLY very good ones. Larry and John Ringo can do them so I follow them. Lesser practitioners lose me.

                July 30, 2018
      • You’re not writing it to ‘follow fashion’ and be in NY good books. You might correctly argue that my lead alien character in SLOWTRAIN was sex-fluid, let alone some choice of orientation. (the species changed from male to female with age – which made good biological sense, and gave them an interesting view of human sexuality), I would guess at 95% of the authors suddenly espousing trans characters, would espouse being zoophilists if that was ‘in’, in NY.

        July 30, 2018
        • No. And my characters have far more interesting things to them than their sex or orientation.

          July 31, 2018
          • Absobloodylutely. Sex is usually the least interesting thing about a person in a story.

            July 31, 2018
    • GWB #

      I have a friend who wrote a novel, selling it indie (I think) on Amazon. He put it in the category “Transgender romance”.
      It sold for a while, then basically stopped. He seemed puzzled when relating this. I told him “Well, it’s probably sold to everyone in that niche, and most folks outside that niche aren’t going to buy one in the niche unless there’s some push related to it.”
      Unfortunately that seemed to puzzle him as well. *sigh*

      August 8, 2018
  4. “The key is to get noticed, but not in the way the puke-covered wino downing the slop-buckets at wine-tasting does.”

    Dave, I believe you have found the perfect metaphor for the 2018 Hugos.

    “The owners operated under a very sensible ‘a happy customer is a return customer’ and not ‘how much profit can we make off this customer by selling them expensive crap’ model.”

    Again, you’ve encapsulated the divide in modern retail AND modern governance. In a sentence. That’s impressive, old son. I’m stealing that.

    The pelvis thing, it sounds like your SI joint is out of whack. If you don’t have somebody to fix it for you, contact me off list and I’ll tell you how to do it at home. There’s a couple of “Muscle Energy” tricks that will rotate it right back where it belongs. The nice thing about muscle energy is if you do it wrong, you can’t really make things much worse because the pain will make you stop. ~:D

    July 30, 2018
    • Correct. It is a Sacro-Illiac (sp?) issue. Our physio is usually very good at fixing it, and gave me some exercises. They’re just not working right now, and I can’t get to see him for 10 days… So yes, I’d be very grateful and willing to try anything – but I am not sure HOW to contact you off-list

      July 30, 2018
      • thephantom one eight two at yahoo dot com. Drop me a line and I’ll describe the procedure.

        July 30, 2018
        • I hope I have succeeded in sending you a message

          July 30, 2018
          • Message received. Sending green smoke now. ~:D

            July 31, 2018
  5. Draven #

    While quite understanding the tone of the post, i never quite ‘got’ wine.

    July 30, 2018
    • I don’t either, besides using certain things as cooking liquid for certain foods. I can’t drink anything with alcohol, but man oh man, wine keeps some meats really moist and brings out the flavors in the other seasonings. And colored peppers (red, yellow, orange) sauteed in a good white wine so they caramelize a little? Yum!

      July 30, 2018
      • Tprice #

        Same for my wife and I. A bottle of ‘two buck Chuck’ aka Trader Joe’s house brand Charles Schwab 2.99$ these days, is just fine for cooking with.

        July 30, 2018
    • I never liked wine until I got introduced to sweet, fruity whites and rose wines. I’m not a beer drinker – I drank the occasional Heineken, but that was it – the closest I get are fruit ciders; and usually I just have a sip or two from what Rhys is drinking (Strongbow, Rekordelig, etc) My husband brought home a fruity craft beer that I declared “Surprisingly very drinkable!” because it caught his eye (had a punny name and a flavor profile that had him decide to give it a go.)

      July 31, 2018
      • SheSellsSeashells #

        I make decent part-time money writing product descriptions for assorted e-commerce people.Lately there’s been a rash of wine and beer. I don’t know much about beer, but at this point I damn well SOUND like I do. 😀

        July 31, 2018
        • I used to do that for a while, for sites like Tigerdirect (sites like that, not necessarily that one). That was very stressful, and in order for me to make an amount that would translate to a wage that could be added to the household income as viable, I tended not to sleep much. Fortunately, there was a point where I had to give it up as I was migrating to Australia then.

          August 1, 2018
  6. I used to have a housemate who was a a high-end bartender and, for a certain single young businessman, an on-call arm candy for wine tastings, because she is beautiful, witty, classy, and still good friends even after they decided not to be partners.

    She’d sometimes bring me along – and if I’m a little more awkward and coltish, with not nearly as much sense for fashion or shoes and not nearly as quippy, well, I was pretty, female, and knew a bit about wine and a lot about keeping my mouth shut about what goes on at business dinners. And, as she found out, I’m a pilot. She knew that, but she didn’t realize this would promote me from wallflower geek what rounded out the table to engaged in deep discussion with several gentlemen about good places to fly in Alaska, and providing sympathy for engine overhaul issues…

    I learned a lot about wine, and that the price is almost completely disconnected from the taste, due to the fashions and modes that flow through the marketplace. On the low end, well, a bottle of five-buck-chuck has never wowed me, and I rarely find anything in the 99 cent – $1.99 price range that has become a re-read favourite.

    Under $25 wine is usually serviceable with dinner, but not amazing, and so is the vast majority of indie in it $2.99-4.99 range. Every now and then you find wonderful bottles, or wonderful books, that keep you coming back for more and more. (There is a reason we detoured to a vineyard on the way to LibertyCon last year, and stocked up several cases of BeechHaven wines. It’s the same reason I snap up new novellas and novels by favourite indie authors, and work my way through entire backlists after finding a great read.)

    But the higher price ranges? Completely disconnected. Silver Oak used to be a beautiful little winery that was about $30-$50 a bottle, and some were very reminiscent of effervescent cherries in a good way. But then it got discovered, and now it’s $115/bottle at the low end. Same wine! And that indie that went trad, and now their books are $13.99 for kindle instead of $3.99 – same book!

    On the other hand, there are wines that are worth paying $30-50 a bottle for. Not very often, but as a treat… although I won’t pay that much unless I know I’m getting a real winner, and even then only when I’m treating myself. Which is where wineries who offer tastings, and Amazon offering samples, comes in. And thus, I do still buy the occasional $8.99 ebook from Baen, or $9.99 ebook from elsewhere… but only if it’s actually out and I can decide between the sample and the reviews that it’s worth the splurge.

    As for gimmicky labels – we had a phrase, “The curse of the cute bottle.” No bottle that we ever bought untasted just because the label or bottle was awesome/cute/humourous turned out to be good. We were certain it couldn’t be an ironclad law, but after the third time, we learned. After the fifth time, we swore to stop trying. Around about the tenth time, we really did stop – and now when a label makes me laugh or groan, I usually just move right on. (One exception to prove the rule – Goats Do Roam, from Cote du Rhone. It’s a perfectly serviceable plonk, and bad pun.)

    July 30, 2018
    • Draven #

      So basically, you had a Kaylee moment?

      July 30, 2018
      • My friends may have made that observation a time or three. Although I never wore anything with that much ruffle – my housemate helped ensure my clothes were tasteful and fashionable.

        July 30, 2018
    • I meant to write about price too! It’s another gimmick, used fairly often by ‘known’ labels – where they bump the price way up, working on the combination ‘people recognize the name, see the price – assume it is brilliant and worth it. Shades of Trad pub’s e-book prices.

      And I nearly used ‘Goats do Roam’ with the goats on the tower picture as a good example of a gimmick attached to a wine that is drinkable if nothing much more -that has succeeded because of that combo. Fairview does some better wine, though.

      July 30, 2018
      • Colleges up here, too. “We have to raise tuition or people will think we’re not as good as [high-power research university]!” And they wonder why people are starting to take long, hard looks at just how necessary a college education is.

        July 30, 2018
      • You have NO idea how happy I am that Brown Brothers keeps their costs for wine reasonable. I would be rather unhappy if they kicked their price up to the 50+ AUD and above marks.

        July 31, 2018
  7. Uncle Lar #

    Many years ago we were visiting friends in a college town and happened to stop in at a near campus liquor store just to see what might catch our eyes. In addition to some rather good stuff they had a shopping cart of discount closeout foreign wines. The wife bought a baker’s dozen of mostly Croatian wine for under twenty bucks. See, she ran with a pack of like minded ladies who regularly got together for all sorts of adventures. For example, the time they went out to a fern bar restaurant for dinner and told the waitstaff that they were all defrocked nuns.
    Anyway, she put on a tasting party with nibbles and such along with all those bottles of Croatian wine. Luckily she’d also laid in a supply of modest but acceptable red which was quickly used to kill the taste of wine that truly should have been left with the goats it came from.
    So, a good time was had by all at a cheap price. And that too is reminiscent of certain stuff encountered in the literary world these days, a Hugo reading club for example.

    July 30, 2018
  8. LGrin #

    And here I thought the final metaphor was about Jon Del Arroz. Silly me.

    July 30, 2018
    • Yes, very silly. I’m a guy with a background in stats. You’re talking about a guy annoying 26% of the demographic to the entertainment of the other 74% – which is pretty good marketing no matter how irritating that may be. I’m talking about one the 26% making themselves a laughing-stock and a reason for the 74% to avoid all the 26% books AND managing to irritate many of the less extreme 26%, and quite possibly send some over to the 74%. That’s finishing the performance with the slop bucket by trying to grope a grandmother and throwing up onto the buffet table. But carry on. I bought popcorn shares.

      July 30, 2018
      • It may even be less than 26%.

        The so-called “World Science Fiction Convention” routinely gets fewer attendees than Bronycon. Yes, Bronycon, the fringe convention for putatively adult males who role-play as My Little Pony characters.

        Teresa Nielsen Hayden slammed Jon Del Arroz for calling himself a best-selling author (even though he absolutely was on Amazon’s best-seller list), but apparently has no problem describing a con that appeals to a tiny fringe as the “World Science Fiction Convention”.

        Kicker: the people who put on Bronycon just announced that there won’t be one next year. Why? Attendance has become too low.

        July 31, 2018
  9. Basara549 #

    One of the most hilarious things about the group I game with is that there is one player who has alienated a number of the group with his behavior and his politics, to where I rarely hear or see any of him anymore – not because I have had issues with him, but the others have.

    The poor boy is a self-declared Communist, loves all the Red talking heads to death, and can’t understand why we call him a walking oxymoron, because his day job is the wine expert at a local large liquor store (the only one that stocks over 100 types of wine for 50 miles).

    On the subject of writing, though, I’m another one of the people that really tries to avoid writing about what goes on between characters doing the deed. It’s not my place, and I’m not trying to write porn (though, ironically, my head-canon for my own characters is actually quite less tame than what i commit to paper and computers – I just don’t feel like trying to type the play-by-play, especially since some of the characters have been experimenting with each other since they were the equivalents of pre-teens). I might do the lead-up, and the after-game commentary, but it’s not my place to call the game.

    July 30, 2018
  10. Two buck chuck? I drink that on special occasions. 🙂 My default wine comes in a box. I only drink that corked stuff when I gotta impress somebody.

    July 30, 2018
    • Box wine is good because the seal is airtight.

      July 31, 2018
      • Box wine is good because box wine is cheap.

        July 31, 2018
  11. I really wish I liked wine. I can’t tell good from bad, much to the frustration of my sister and her husband who are craft vintners. “Here, Pam! This is a very sweet dessert wine! Double Gold at the California State Fair! You’ll love it!” “Umm, yes, how nice. No thank you, no more, this half glass will do me.”

    Hmm, kind of like the SJW writers. “Try this one! It has Trans, Lesbians and Gays in a huge orgy!! Plus!!!! They are being treated appallingly by a Christian Businessman! You’ll love it!”

    July 30, 2018
  12. Luke #

    Well, if anybody’s looking for recommendations…
    Koenig Vineyard Riesling Icewine
    Indian Creek White Pinot Noir
    Latah Creek Maywine (purists might recoil, as it is flavored with strawberry juice and woodruff)
    Camas Prairie Winery used to be a lot of fun, but I don’t know if the new owners have maintained standards.

    I actually mostly drink red, but good reds are easy to find. Enjoyable whites are much harder to come by.

    July 31, 2018
    • Maywine is good. Nothing wrong with woodruff.

      July 31, 2018
    • For “no sulfite added” wines (necessary if you have a sensitivity), the only U.S. one we’ve ever found that is any good is a line called Honeyrun from a Chico winery. Definitely a dessert wine—somewhat reminiscent of port, at least with one of the fruits—but doesn’t taste like a bottle of nothing, like most of the no-added-sulfite wines we’ve had. About $12 a bottle, so decent dessert plonk. (Note: I don’t much care for alcohol, so sweet wine is about my limit of knowledge.)

      July 31, 2018
  13. jon spencer #

    Pour a bottle of so / so wine in a blender and mix at a higher speed for 2 to 5 minutes, then pour it back in the bottle to rest for a few more minutes to settle. It seems to age / mellow and improve the taste of the wine.

    August 1, 2018

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