“What I’m Drinking” returns!

In Lifestyle on July 22, 2011 at 9:50 am

I pulled down my folder labeled “PD Drafts” and discovered that I had not reprised my What I’m Drinking column on Phyne Dyning.

 No, I did not fall into a Hemmingway-esque depression when my official sommelier, Casa di Vino, closed in June.  Nor was I tempted to take a ride on the temperance wagon.

Nope, the column was not AWOL for lack of subject matter.  It is the one column, aside from those poking a thumb in the state’s eye, where I had a virtual cornucopia of material.  I simply (Yep!) forgot to write the column.

Now, the Phyne Dyner absolutely disdains posers in all forms.  And, you will find no larger populations of posers than in a wine shop.

“What an interesting finish…”

“It has a hint of rosewood…”

“My palate tells me this was corked too early…”

My arse!

Most of the people gargling wine in front of each other could not taste a burning tire wrapped in a corpse.  My own brother was horrified years back when I dared bring “jug” wine to his home.

This from a guy who once drank half of a Coors bottle of snuff spit at a rodeo dance without noticing it was neither cold, nor beer.

Nor do I pay much attention to the back label of a wine bottle.  After all, that is were the wine garglers learn their poser’s lexicon.

Away and avast with all that.  The Phyne Dyner shall now hold forth on what he knows about…


Winking Owl Chardonnay

First off, the owl on the bottle is not winking.  That is a grimace and it is what you look like after drinking Sterno.

And it is not “Chardonnay” it is “Chardonnaaaaaaaay”…emphasis on the “nay”.

The stuff is $3.99 at Aldi Foods.

I assume the back label had some Poser-Speak about “fruity tones and an almond finish”.  My submission for the label would read, “musty decaying wood flavors artfully mingled with feminine hygiene spray”.

Kitchen Sink White Table Wine

 Available from that higher-end wine retailer, Costco, at $4.99…this wine proves you get what you pay for.  A whole dollar more than Winking Owl and you can tell the difference in taste.

It actually is a very crisp wine.  Delightful when chilled.  But then, so is Drano.


Okay, amateur hour is over.  Time to get to the Pro’s Corner.


The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (also the name of a party store in Texas) has decreed that vodka is a neutral grain spirit.

A neutral grain spirit has no taste.  In fact, one of the prized characteristics of status vodkas is a “clean” (“no”) taste.  Once the stuff has burned its way to your gullet, then you start to notice flavors.

Impurities, perfumes, and added flavorings are responsible for those aftertastes people either desire or disdain.  The better a native vodka is distilled and filtered, the fewer aldehydes, phenols, and other chemicals lurk in it.

“Nonsense”, say the experts.

“Is so”, says the other side.

There are many sides to the argument and you can find studies to support each side.  This is when the real experts weigh in…

…advertising copy writers.

Wherever there is murky water, count on marketing types to spin it into whatever direction best fits their client’s need to fleece people out of their hard-earned bucks.  When they become astute at lying and spinning, many advertising people drift into the pro-leagues…

…professional politics.

For example, when the price of cocoa soared, chocolate bar companies began adding air to their chocolate.  The principle is simple: the more free air you put in a product, the less costly ingredients the package contains.  The volume (size) stays the same and the price remains constant.

Because you get less chocolate and more air!

Enter the liar’s club of advertising.  One cannot advertise “NOW with less chocolate!”

But, one can advertise that the chocolate is “NOW creamier!” or “NOW with fewer calories!”

Shall it be written.  Shall it be done.

The same holds for vodka.

Without spin, people will not cough up $45 for a bottle of Grey Goose when a bottle of $5.89 Barton’s is essentially the same thing.

I once performed a simple experiment on some visiting friends.

We had not yet dutifully returned our empty vodka and wine bottles in accordance with state edict.  I had a nice collection of (empty) premium vodka bottles.  There were dead soldiers of Belvedere, Grey Goose, Chopin, and Absolut neatly stored under my bar.  I also had a copious number of Phillips bottles that were still full.

(Photo: "sirazal" Deviant Art)

I partially refilled each of the premium vodka bottles with Phillips Vodka.

A small group of us congregated on the patio one lazy Saturday for our Twelve-step Program meeting…this is a social support network where you drink until you can only take twelve steps before falling down.

As a special bonus, I offered drinks made with everyone’s favorite vodka.  On the way out of the house, the drinks got “mixed up”.

I asked everyone to sort it out, since there was no way I was going to pour drinks down the drain when they contain such high-dollar vodkas.

“Ah, this is my Belevedere”, crowed one guest.  “Ewwwww!” cried another, “This must be that rot-gut Dead Goose.”

It was all Phillips!

According to Reuters Money, people drink “status vodkas” solely for their status image.

I promise a repeat experiment where “premium” vodkas are decanted into empty Phillips bottles.

Who says science is boring?

Shall I unscrew it for you, sir?

A lot of people would have a better time if they simply drank what they enjoy, rather than putting on a show for the rubes.

Today, anyone with a credit card can be a food critic or wine expert.  We see them clustered around each other, pontificating on their knowledge of good food and drink.

Mrs. Phyne Dyner recently uttered these words of wisdom about “good” sushi that was declared “good” solely because it came from a trendy, downtown eatery:

“How do you know good sushi from bad sushi, if you’ve never eaten bad sushi?”

And, therein, is wisdom.

In order to appreciate good drink, one must start with bad drink.  The posers skip this essential step in learning.  They jump right to the “good drink” and hope everyone will assume that they have worked their way through the bad stuff.

It is a practice akin to claiming to have a doctorate without even having attended community college.

So, why not drink what you enjoy?

Mrs. Phyne Dyner actually enjoys stuff like Boone’s Farm and Arbor Mist.  When we were invited to a BYOB party at the home of a retired Texas state judge, Mrs. PD unabashedly toted in a (chilled) bottle of Boone’s Farm strawberry wine.

Folks who showed up with “nice” bottles of wine were soon asking her if they could try a taste of her Boone’s Farm.

“It’s what I drank in college.”

Within a half-hour her bottle was empty and a “wine run” was proposed to re-supply enough Boone’s for the entire compliment.

By midnight, several bottles of “nice” wines stood, ignored, on the bar.  Once the pretense was dropped, people actually had fun.

So go out and buy some swill.

It’s what I’m drinking.


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