15 January 2010

Ask Benito!

One of the more interesting parts of this whole blogging thing is getting questions from readers. Let's open up the old mailbag and answer a few of them today.

Q: I think I live in your part of town. Can you text me every time you try wine so I can come over and try it with you, and have dinner? I'll be bringing a couple of friends and will need you to watch my kids while I'm tasting the wine.
Dee Ridlett, Memphis, TN

A: Well Dee, while I love to hear from fans and enjoy meeting them from time to time, I prefer a certain level of privacy and handle these things on my own terms. My house is also small, contains two large dogs, a female roommate who is armed and trained in the martial arts, and in general it's not the ideal setting for entertaining guests who aren't already dear friends. There's lots of great public wine tastings around town, though! Check the paper on Wednesday for listings.

Q: Back in April 2005, you wrote about the 2002 Fusée Cabernet Sauvignon, which sold for $4. Here in Nevada the price went up to $5 per bottle and then they stopped carrying it. I need you to send me a case every three months at the original price. I don't know why you insist on jacking up the prices, I'm retired and can't afford the expensive wines you make.
David Morgenhorst, Reno, NV

A: Great to hear from you David, and I'm sorry you can't find the wine you like. But for the record, I do not produce or sell wine, nor am I affiliated with any company that does so. I just taste and write. I don't have control over distribution, pricing, or any other factor that might prevent you from drinking the wine of your choice. Even here in town, sometimes I don't know if something is widely available or just a one-time fluke, so your best bet is always to check with your local retailer. And if they don't have any way to get the wine to you, it's possible that production has stopped or it's just not distributed to your state. But don't get angry at your local retailer: explain what you liked about the wine and ask for a good substitute. Chances are they've got something you'll enjoy just as much, if not more.

Q: I need a wine recommendation. I'm making roast duck for dinner tonight, but it's an old family recipe that's boiled, not roasted, and it doesn't have duck in it. I also need a pairing for sushi but I don't eat raw fish, rice, or seaweed.
Claire Devereaux, Fresno, California

A: This is a bit confusing. If it were real roast duck I'd suggest an Oregon Pinot Noir, but you'd have to give me more details as to what manner of critter is getting boiled, or what kind of... sushi you're consuming. I'm happy to pass along suggestions as long as I have a general idea as to the food, but I don't know what your father would like for his birthday, or what would impress your boss, because I don't know them. If I do suggest something I'm only going to go as far as grape and region. If I mention the perfect wine by name, you're going to run around 20 different stores only to find that nobody has it. Again, ask for help from your local wine shop, and be polite. Those folks work hard, and if you show them an ounce of kindness they'll respond with a pound of assistance, and over time will remember what you like and don't like. Eventually they'll start keeping stuff for you behind the counter or inviting you to special tastings.

I know a lot of this sounds like, "Why read reviews at all if I can't find the wine?" Practically everybody who loves wine has to read a hundred reviews with the hope of trying just one of them. And then there's those lovely small production wines--100 cases means 1200 bottles, so maybe 3600 people will get to try the wine while tens of thousands may have read about it. But it's always good to keep reading, and that information will accumulate and interrconnect in your brain. If you read a lot of favorable reviews of specific Washington white wines, it can encourage you to check out that category, or even visit the region. At some point you'll recognize a label or name and will instantly remember a review that you just glanced at six months ago. More knowledge is a good thing!

Got a question for me? Drop it at benjamin.a.carter@gmail.com with "Ask Benito" in the subject line. If I don't answer it on the blog I'll get back to you personally.


Big Mike said...

I don't think Jennifer will will watch Dee's kids either!!!!!!

Benito said...

For the record, the names and places have been changed, as have a few of the details just to avoid embarrassment. But these are pretty common questions I get on a regular basis. I skipped over the really weird ones--nobody would believe those were real.


Kimberly said...

Hey Benito,

I was going to ask you if these were actually real questions you received, but I can see from your comment here that they are. Oh.my.goodness. I don't even know what to say. I am dumbfounded.


Benito said...


Yep, all real. I love hearing from readers but sometimes the questions are a little weird.