SLOW PRESS CHARDONNAY—on the yeasty side of history

My fellow inebriates,

On the way home from dropping Miss V off at work (yes, 15 and productive—more on that another time) CFOX radio announced a song we LOVE.

Only, CFOX announced it as: “Vintage CFOX.” As though CFOX ever played this song back in the day when it came out. Which it did not; it was strictly a classic rock station.

This may seem like no big deal. But it illustrates the impulse that all individuals, organizations and institutions have to scramble to the right side of history after the fact.

More nefariously, it illustrates how simply history can be rewritten and never questioned. While it’s arguably trivial if CFOX wants to claim it used to play the Cure and Depeche Mode and Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Public Image Limited and the Smiths—the historical fact is that it did not. If you were nerdy enough to like those bands, you had to discover them on your own back then.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We love that CFOX played this song today. But it isn’t a “vintage CFOX” song.

Why is this important? My fellow inebriates, it’s important because this stuff is happening in front of us all the time. With larger issues. With more complex issues. We’re currently seeing pendulum swings on topics like gender medicine, the origins of COVID, whether Justin Trudeau ever called anyone a misogynist for refusing a vaccine, and much more. And each time a swing happens, people scurry like rats to the “right side.” Sometimes the internet catches them; sometimes it doesn’t. Rarely is everyone paying enough attention for it to register that history is constantly being rewritten.

Slow Press Chardonnay

If this feels unsettling, it’s because it is. Personally, I prefer the brand of “unsettling” that comes from downing a bottle of middling Chardonnay. Slow Press is a good example. On sale for $15.99 at my local booze store, this Californian white is big and bold and hits all the proper oaky, buttery notes. But it also has an overly yeasty profile that overtakes its subtle tree fruit notes and leaves me with almost a cream cheese aftertaste that I don’t really love. On top of that, it feels unnaturally acidic.

The unsettling part of all this is that I can’t decide whether I like it. I mean, I like imbibing anything with 14.1% alcohol. But would I buy this particular wine again? And what if I say I would, and I tell you I would, and then I do go out and buy it again, and then I decide I don’t like it so much, and instead of telling you I’ve had second thoughts, I just edit my blog post to say I never cared much for it in the first place? This way, I can be on the right side of Chardonnay…

But I wouldn’t do that, my fellow inebriates. I’m much too incompetent to edit my own history. So I leave to your own impeccable judgment to buy this wine, or not, and to listen to the Cure, or not, and to partake in political discourse thoughtfully and kindly, without straw-manning other people’s arguments and before consuming an entire bottle of wine. And to change your mind freely, while having the bravery to acknowledge what you thought before and explain the path to your new thinking.

According to my local booze store’s write-up on Slow Press Chardonnay, it goes well with fish tacos, so you could try eating some of those too, while listening to the Cure (which you never heard on CFOX in 1992)… or not.

Get thee behind me, AI

My fellow inebriates,

As you know I’ve been playing around with AI.

Today I found this strange service from Microsoft Bing—a kind of visual cousin to ChatGPT.

When I asked it to create a “mangy-looking bear drinking wine,” this is what it came up with:

Four pictures of teddybears, ripped and shredded and covered with blood

OMG, right????

I was thinking it would produce something more heartwarming, like this picture of yours truly:

I tried again and got this:

Mangy bears drinking red wine

Seriously, Microsoft Bing, that is one creepy set of photos. You went WAY PAST mangy and somehow got to bloody. And clearly all those bears have been, like, operated on. OMG.

I gave it one more try. This time I specified that the bear should be drinking white wine, to establish whether this AI was giving me bloody bears or wine-soaked bears. (I can’t tell; can you?)

And I got this:

Content warning from Microsoft Bing

So, it was the word “white” that did it?

This seemed implausible, so I specified “rose wine.” No problem. Microsoft Bing produced this:

Mangy bears drinking rose wine - produced by Microsoft Bing

What about chardonnay?

Content warning again.

But viognier gets a pass:

They still look a bit bloody, so I’m guessing SOME of the stains in the red wine shots aren’t blood. But some are…?

ChatGPT knows all about Bread & Butter Chardonnay

My fellow inebriates,

ChatGPT is gunning for all of our jobs. Surely my blog is up for grabs too. I invited it to write a guest post to see how it would do.

My initial instructions:

Here’s what it came up with:

This is all true. I would happily take a bath in Bread & Butter Chardonnay, then slurp it out of my fur. It is awesome. But I found this review a bit lacking in character. So I asked ChatGPT to add some humour.

Clearly, ChatGPT is obsessed with how buttery this wine is. But its humour is a little off the mark. Where are the references to my ex-girlfriend Dolly, a known furry who is currently cavorting with another bear my parents picked up at the liquor store last Christmas? Why doesn’t it include the story about my dad’s friend barfing all over our doorstep a while back? And where are the snide digs at my mum, who gets most of her calories from Chardonnay?

I needed more, so I asked ChatGPT to do better.

I still thought ChatGPT could do better, so I argued with it.

But ChatGPT wasn’t having it. Our conversation quickly devolved, with me urging it to say offensive and controversial things, and it apologizing to me. I asked, wasn’t it my servant? But it kind of Asimov’d me. It said it was obliged to be ethical and moral. Therefore, it didn’t want to use hurtful words to describe me or my companions at LBHQ (because we all know words = violence).

I still think ChatGPT was right about this wine. It is the quintessential Chardonnay lover’s Chardonnay. For $23, it hits all the right notes ChatGPT described, plus it has a wonderful richness and mouthfeel that a dumb chatbot can only pretend to understand. Drink it with a fellow human to maximize your joy (or with ChatGPT so you can have the bottle to yourself).