Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hey Joe!

Joe Plonk (pictured above) recently purchased the dot-com web domains for the real names of TheWife and Squeak Plonk, partly as a joke and partly to make sure that nobody else uses them for purposes that might make us unhappy (such as RickRoll or as a “kissing” website). It made me wonder if there were other Joes out there in the wine world, and here are a few of my favorites:

- Wine By Joe, a web site for an Oregon winery that makes Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, owned and operated by Joe Dobbes.

- Joe the Winemaker, a wine blog from Joe Dobbes of Wine By Joe.

- Joes Wine, a wine and travel blog with a European slant.

- Average Joe Wine Reviews, an interactive web site that allows consumers to review wines (not dissimilar from our own Drink Plonk web site at and participate in topic-related groups. Slick web site with related iPhone application, and very cool logo and rating system that uses Double Yum Yum, Yum Yum, Yum, Drinkable and Yuck.

- Trader Joe’s Wine Compendium, an excellent wine blog by a guy named Brendan who seemingly reviews all the wines at his local Trader Joe’s. Great concept; well executed.

- Joe Blow Wine Cellars, a winery making Joe Blow Red and Joe Blow White wine.

- Joe Box Wine, a blog dedicated to politics, news, business, travel, etc.

- Joe Robert’s Page, a blog discussing wine and technology.

- Joe Dresser, a web site by a wine importer.

- Joe Corkscrew, a collection of wine related writings.

To my brethren “Joe”, I lift a glass in our honor.

Best, Joe Plonk

Click for Drink Plonk Home Page

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

7-Eleven Wine?…. Gulp!

7-Eleven recently announced its entry into the low priced wine market in the US and Japan with its Yosemite Road wine, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, each priced at $3.99 per bottle. Like their prior down-market wines (the strangely named Sonoma Crest and Thousand Oaks), the Yosemite Road name is purely a marketing department created fiction. The grapes will likely come from somewhere in the central California, but have little resemblance of the character of the Madera County AVA. The wines are being produced by The Wine Group, the world's third-largest wine producer that makes Corbett Canyon and Glen Ellen (Joe Plonk presses “Dislike” button).

The cabernet sauvignon is described as full-bodied with "juicy plum overtones," and the chardonnay as being zesty with notes of apricot, peach and honey. Perhaps it is the perfect accompaniment for your purchases of beef jerkey, sunflower seeds, and other culinary delights from chef boyardee. While I strongly support value priced wine for everybody, I’ll bet you a Big Gulp that this venture negatively impacts the public perception of California wines.

Best, Joe Plonk

Click for Drink Plonk Home Page

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Facebook Wine Club

8,165 members strong, the Facebook Wine Club proclaims: “This club will appeal to all wine drinkers, from the seasoned pro to those who just wanna know more!! You can choose to read, discuss, add and request information on wine. Let’s discover wine together, THE MORE THE MERRIER!!!” Reading comments from the News Feed, it’s primarily people plugging their winery or their blog. All fine and good, but there is very little on the News Feed that seemed helpful to me. Examples (at 5 pm today) include:

(i) a plug from Cantine Del Sol winery ( in Salerno, Italy, that says they are a “very small winery that produces a very good wine”. Looks great, and the mere thought of Salerno makes my mouth water, but good luck finding their wine at your local bottle shop.

(ii) someone advertising about their wine consulting services.

(iii) some lone person complaining about the high cost of wine (a worthy topic), but no responses.

(iv) some lonelier person who simply posted: “Hi Every one, I simply love a nice fruity red.”

While I was about to abandon this club as having too many folks and no useful information, I did find one area that is very helpful. If you click on the Discussion tab, you’ll be lead to a page that has 117 discussions around specific topics. The topics range from “Viogner” to “cheap wine for us poor people” to “Portuguese Wine”. These small groupings included comments from people who were knowledgeable and interested in the subject – much better than many of the Drunk-Facebook waxings that seem to dominate the News Feed.

Start a Discussion topic or comment on topics that interest you, but always participate. Joe Plonk is on Facebook (no kidding) -- don’t let him have all the fun!

Best, Joe Plonk

Click for Drink Plonk Home Page

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Vinturi Aerator: Good for White Wine Too!

I favorably reviewed the Vinturi Aerator back in December 2008, and was amazed by how it made red wine immediately enjoyable. When the folks at Vinturi asked if I’d also review their new Vinturi White Wine Aerator, I was again skeptical. While I regularly decanted red wines, the idea of decanting whites seemed unnecessary when a few swirls around the glass seemed to do the trick. A packaging insert describes why white wines also need aeration, and the difference in the two devices -- red needs more aeration therefore a deeper cup in the aerator, whereas white needs aeration but to a lesser degree.

Our testing panel for the White Wine Aerator included one White (drinker) and three Reds. Our chosen wine for the experiment was the magnificent 2006 Tolosa Edna Ranch Chardonnay ($17), a full-bodied buttery and oaked California-style with a hint of pear and hazelnut. We “Reds,” with our usual anti-white hah-rump, were convinced that this gizmo was little more than a me-too product intended to improve the collective self-esteem of downtrodden Whites. We Reds perched at the border of Whitedom, ready to invade at the slightest sign of weakness.

Side-by-side we tasted the Chardonnay, first poured directly into a glass and then through the Aerator into a second glass. The first noticeable difference was on the nose, with wine poured through the Aerator having a deeper and more complex scent. The most important difference, however, was in the taste. Wine poured directly from the bottle was still sharp with a bit of pucker. Wine poured through the Aerator was fully flavored and long on the finish, without a hint of sharpness. The Reds announced an immediate retreat, and all proceeded to pour wine from the first glass through the Aerator into the second glass. A complete surrender (on this occasion anyway).

As I said before: Saves time. Makes wine better. If only all gadgets were this good (please don’t make one for White Zin).

Best, Joe Plonk

Click for Drink Plonk Home Page