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Style Magazine

Wine Class

Aug 31, 2008 05:00PM ● By Super Admin

You can love something without understanding it…just look at the popularity of Lost. But it’s always nice when you do know something about the object of your affection. Take wine for example. I enjoy the occasional sojourn to the vineyards of Placer or El Dorado County with friends. But when I get there, I see others sipping, swirling and saying things like “it’s got good legs” and I end up feeling uncomfortable and intimidated, at least until the third or fourth stop.

Rick Kushman, the longtime TV columnist for the Sacramento Bee, (and their funniest writer, if you don’t count the angry letters-to-the-editor) enjoyed wine, but didn’t much understand it either. So he wrote a book. “A Moveable Thirst,” co-authored with Hank Beal, the executive wine buyer for Nugget Markets, is a great read for anyone who has ever wondered if there was room in the wine world for people who don’t walk around with the collar up on their polo shirt. I caught up with Rick to get the scoop:

T: Why wine? Why not beer…or grain alcohol?
R: It would have been tough to get our wives to let us tour grain alcohol plants, and believe me, I’ve asked. Seriously, wine is fun and it makes food, and life better. Plus the more you learn about it, the more interesting and the more fun it gets. And the subject needs normal people writing about it to spread that sense of fun. Not that I’m normal… I’m just saying.

T: What’s the number one mistake of the novice wine drinker?
R: Listening to other people, and looking at price. I say in the book, if you love it you’re right; if you hate it, you’re right.

T: Which wine has the most pretentious fans?
R: Cabernet, European cabs and cab blends. Cabs are big money reds –  the ones that can get cultish and exclusive and let people pretend they’re cool. I’ve never figured out why people think wine makes you cool. I mean, would you do that with anything else, like, say potatoes? Who says, “I only eat imported potatoes?”

T: Which wine has the least?
R: White Zinfandel. When someone asks what he or she should look for in a glass of white zin, I tell them, “the buzz.”

T: When some people sip wine, they taste blueberries and apricots and chocolate. All I ever taste is wine. Is there something wrong with me?
R: Tom, there’s a lot wrong with you, but nothing involving wine. You can smell a cake and know if it’s chocolate, so eventually with some practice and attention, you’ll get different smells and tastes out of the wine.  

T: Three questions a novice should ask to look more wine savvy?
R: First thing: never try to look wine savvy because there’s no reason. Who cares if you’re not a pro? But, the questions to ask are really simple: “Tell me about your wine?” “What might I notice in it?” and “What food would it go well with?”

T: Three questions they shouldn’t?
R: “Can I have more?” “Is that hot server single?” And, “Was that your cat I just ran over?”

T: Your book is about Napa, but what about the Sierra Foothills? When are you going to give those wineries some love?
R: I do love the wineries in the foothills. And I’ll be writing about them in the Bee in my new column, The Good Life, and on the Bee’s wine Web site, And, yes, my professional life now involves drinking wine and watching TV. See what going to college gets you?

T: Your favorite wine to review TV shows with?
R: Anything with high alcohol [content].

T: Is it true that a guy sniffing the cork is an uninformed tool?
R: Total tool. When they drop the cork on you at dinner, do not touch it, or put it in your pocket, [just] ‘cause you paid for it. There’s nothing you can get from the cork.

T: Thank you for helping me no longer be “that guy.”
R: Uh, Tom, buddy, you’re still that guy. But I do what I can.

T: Last question: Now that you’ve explained wine to me, can you explain Lost?
R: The only thing I can tell you Tom is: the more wine you drink, the more sense Lost makes.

Catch Tom on the Pat and Tom Morning Show on New Country 105.1 KNCI.