•What is the four-wheel-drive, off-road vehicle of the wine world?
•Who said: “Lower yields, ripe fruit, an artisanal approach, less is better. Let the terroir express itself. This is my legacy”?
•What is red, French, costs too much, and tastes like the water that's left in the vase after the flowers have died and rotten?
•Who is Colombo and what is the mystery of the missing socks?
•Why are rosebunches sometimes planted at the end of each row of vines?
You will find the answers to these questions in Bacchus and Me : Adventures in the Wine Cellar by Jay McInerney. Jay McInerney is a bestselling novelist who contributes to Condé Nast House & Garden and The New Yorker. Bacchus and Me is a compilation of his House & Garden wine column. The book is full of witty anecdotes written in a cutting, caustic style, and it is a lot of fun to read.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
Regarding Condrieu: “Perfume is more expensive and it's not potable.”
Regarding Burgundy: “Burgundy is a lovely thing when you can get anybody to buy it for you.”
Regarding Beaujolais: “a Hawaiian shirt of a wine.”
Regarding sweet wines: “All of those who made unlikely vows about calories this year should remember that unlike pastry, pudding, and cake, a glass of vino dolci is super-low in fat and cholesterol.”
Regarding Zinfandel: “Almost any Zinfandel that starts with R is good.”
But the best story is about the rosebunches. Asked why rosebunches often mark the end of each row of vines in Bordeaux, Bruno Borie of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou explained:
“There are three theories about that. One is that the roses were like the canaries in the coal mines — early-warning systems for disease. Another theory is that they were planted so that the horses would know when to turn, at the end of each row.”
“And the third theory?”
Smiling, Bruno Borie answered: “Perhaps they're just there because they're beautiful. We have forgotten about gratuitous acts of beauty.”
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