Drinking old Rieslings

Nothing causes me to chuckle more than when someone tells me that they only drink red wine. And, they say it with a straight face while claiming to be knowledgeable about wine.

Anyone who says this is not serious about wine and is in a similar category as those people who make blanket statements like, “that’s not a good wine.” They may not like it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad wine unless it’s truly corked, which I doubt they’d even know. I’m always careful to say I don’t like that wine or it’s too sweet, etc. Because someone else might like it or I could be wrong. I also think that serious wine drinkers appreciate both red and white wine, depending on the food and the occasion.

In fact, some of my favorite wines are white. I’m a big fan of Chardonnays and constantly tasting them. I’m also quite a fan of Riesling. Both wines are made in Oregon though Riesling is more advanced. Chardonnay is still a work in progress thought it’s getting better.

Some people turn their noses up at Riesling because they have an idea in their heads about how it will taste (sweet) and they’re usually wrong. But every serious winemaker I know contends that making Riesling well is a key qualification to making other varietals.

One of my favorite Oregon Rieslings is made by Lemelson Vineyards. Right now, I’m enjoying a 2004. A 2004 Riesling, you ask? Yes, Riesling is one of the white wines, like a great French Chardonnay, that will age. And an aged Riesling can be wonderful. They will mellow some, turn more of a golden color and after a number of years take on a petroleum or gasoline nose, yet are still amazing. This one started out very tart and lemony — almost like lemonade — but has now changed character and is even more creamy — like lemon custard.

Riesling is a great summer cocktail wine, but also goes super well with roasted chicken, shellfish and spicy Asian dishes. Next time you’re at an Oregon winery, pick up a dry Riesling and put it away for a few years.

Portland one of least angry cities in America

I knew there was a reason why I love living in Portland (Beaverton actually). Portland is one of the least angry cities in America, according to a study published by Men’s Health Magazine. The data was collected and analyzed by Sperling’s BestPlaces, a Portland organization.

Anymore, I use the rejoinder “life’s too short” more often and when it comes to anger, nothing could be closer to the truth. Who has time to harbor anger? It dominates the political discussion and is a huge turn-off for many of us and one of the reason why I’m slightly intolerant of the right wing movement. How was the survey derived? It looked for the percentage of men with high blood pressure, FBI rates of aggravated assaults, workplace deaths from assaults and other violence. It also included traffic congestion data and speeding citations.

No surprise, but five Florida cities — Orlando (#1), St. Petersburg (#2), Miami (#7), Jacksonville (#9), Tampa (#12) — ranked in the top 12 angriest cities. Go figure! Portland ranked a blissful No. 96. Seattle was at 43, probably mostly due to the traffic congestion. Surprisingly, New York is a pretty happy city at No. 57. The bottom quarter of the list is dominated by more rural enclaves, but other larger cities on the list include San Jose (#75), Minneapolis (#77), Anaheim (#79), Pittsburgh (#90).

A 2005 survey found that parents—and especially women— were more likely to feel angry. (So, too, were people under thirty and those with less education.)  Of the top 25 angriest cities, 14 are in the South. As it turns out, this may not be such a great place to live. Is it the heat, racial tensions, education levels, right wing politics? Hmmm, interesting food for thought.

While Portland may be the most depressed city in America, at least the folks here aren’t angry about it.

PS — Listening to Howard Stern interview someone right now how insists she’s “so angry.”

Pre-Autumn

Officially, summer has arrived. The temperatures here are supposed to approach 100 degrees for a couple of days this week and then cool off into the 80s by the weekend. Perfect lemonade and vodka weather.

We’ve had an incredibly wet spring/early summer which has been terribly confusing to the plants and trees. Our bamboo in the backyard thinks it’s April and is just sending up new shoots. They are massively tall, but only beginning to leaf out. And, most of the yellow cast is beginning to disappear as sunlight becomes more the norm. The neighbor’s young walnut tree that I thought was dead is now leafing out — in July! Look for walnuts in January?

So it’s been in the Northwest this summer.

Once we get past mid-July, I really consider us into pre-Autumn, the precursor to my favorite season. We call it Fall, but the Brits call it more properly Autumn. The days are more baked with cool mornings and lingering evenings for sitting outside listening to music or reading one of those summertime books. Maybe even a contemplative cigar now and again.

But, this is all just a build-up to Fall. You can almost smell it in the air — warm days, cool nights, a hint of smokiness in the air and, of course, football around the corner. To me, this is sort of like the Christmas countdown when you were a kid. The anticipation was usually better than the real thing.

The countdown to September 1 is a great time for contemplation, preparation and planning for the busy Fall season ahead. It is one of life’s small pleasures and there isn’t even a price of admission..

Nikon D90 or Lumix GF1?

I’m torn between a DSLR (Nikon D90) and something kind of sleeker and cooler, like the Panasonic Lumix GF-1. I really like the looks of the latter, though it’s a bit spendy for what you get. Biggest worry about the Nikon is that I’d not use it as much because it’s so big and bulky. Lumix comes highly rated and people who own it love it. Considered a great street camera. What are your thoughts?

Why Apple gets a pass on iPhone 4 issues

Apple’s new iPhone 4 may be the most successful launch in the history of the company, but it has come in spite of a bevy of performance issues that might have crippled the momentum of any other consumer gadget. So why is Apple seemingly skating through this one?

I would posit three things that have allowed Apple to surmount the criticism even while issuing lame excuses that smack more of PR spinning than real transparency.

1) Apple has a tremendous almost messianic following among its customers. The brand bonds that Apple has forged over the years are seemingly almost unbreakable among the converted. Its customers simply love Apple’s products and have a near unquestioning faith int he company’s products, even when they appear flawed. They believe Apple will always make it right and history validates that belief.

2) Apple’s reputation for building cool, trend-setting products that are at the top of the design stack also buys it a lot of buffer with its customers. When you’ve got a track record of building the coolest stuff on the market, people are willing to do a little mental compensation and tend not to hold Apple quite as accountable as other companies that have burned them with new concepts that didn’t deliver on the pre-launch hype.

3) While Apple seems a bit too dismissive about the antennae issue, it’s also probably not as bad or as widespread as some would have you believe. So, there really aren’t enough people experiencing this flaw for whatever reason. The latest rumor has it that some phones were affected because of a manufacturing flaw.  

On Friday, Apple issued an apology to customers for snafus around the antennae issue, but really did not address the issue. It may have, in fact, exacerbated it by acknowledging that iPhones may be showing too many bars, indicating that the reception on them is actually worse than previously thought. 

Only time will tell on this one. But, if past history is any indication, Apple has ample deposits in its bank account to navigate this storm and still come out without even a scratch on its reputation. 

Noah’s Bagels after church

A beautiful 4th in America