BORSAO CAMPA DE BORJA GARNACHA (2011)—Literacy, here I come

Elementary school barfs out almost as many bullshit phrases as your typical business-speak corporation, so it was no surprise to see a sign in the lobby about PHYSICAL LITERACY.

physical literacy

According to Physical & Health Education Canada, “individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.”

Which is to say, if you’re physically literate, you’re physically fit. Unless it’s not okay to say “physically fit” anymore.

literacy defintion*

You’re damn straight wine literacy can’t be taught in three hours. You need to drink for a lot longer than three hours, friends, if you want to learn the ins and outs of wine. You couldn’t possibly try all the available varietals in three hours and be able to apply a discerning palate. Not even a supposed guru like Robert Parker, who claims he can remember the characteristics of every wine he’s ever tasted (and he does 50 at a time), could have become wine-literate in three hours.

But still…in the case of a phrase like “wine literacy” we’re talking about knowledge of the subject. And while experience with wine is necessary to achieve both intellectual knowledge and visceral understanding, we’re still talking about a discipline that involves verbal and written descriptions of wine, not to mention a fair whack of studying for the really serious oenophile.

So when Miss V, who is reading “Cool Cats Drive” admirably but probably won’t tackle the Harper Canadian Government’s position paper on physical literacy anytime soon, what the hell does a stupid catchphrase like “physical literacy” mean? Does it mean she knows about monkey bars and slides and tetherballs, and does her so-called physical literacy increase as she betters her skills at these activities or only when she learns that her calf muscles are called the gastrocnemius and soleus?

If you saw V on the monkey bars you would not question evolution (I’m speaking to you, Langley). The kid is a serious monkey. Unlike monkeys, however, she knows how to write her phone number, albeit with the 2s backwards. If “physical literacy” means being good at physical stuff, the kid is also physically literate. But can’t we just say she’s fit? Or does that discriminate against paunchy kids and child amputees? I don’t want to be a dick, but you’d think “fit” would do here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne kind of literacy V doesn’t have (this time I’m speaking to you, Child Services) is wine literacy. That’s why we waited until she was in bed before opening our bottle of BORSAO CAMPA DE BORJA GARNACHA (2011). Another inexpensive Spanish find, BORSAO is a blend of 70% Garnacha, 20% Syrah, and 10% Tempranillo. We bought it, curiously enough, because it had a shelf-talker quoting Robert Parker raving about the stuff. Ninety points he said, and goodness knows you have to take a mark like that seriously when the scale starts at 50 and everything under 85 is considered shit. LOL.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe decanted it, noting (with our oenological semi-literacy) that it was a young wine, plus we’ve found that when Tempranillo is present to any degree we’re in for a lot of interesting changes as the wine breathes, so decanting is a must. And BORSAO was no exception. It was immediately enticing, yes, and Mum and I were ready to guzzle it with abandon, but Dad said it was a bit rough at first. So we let it sit for a while, and indeed it did open up, developing all sorts of nuance. Before that happens, you get a fantastic fruit-forward orgy; 45 minutes in the decanter and you get something quite special.

Aromas: ripe berries and spice. BORSAO is full-bodied and complex, serving up tasty dark fruit and multi-layered detail—hints of tobacco and flowers that awaken as the wine sits.

Now you know I really hate waiting to drink wine. But decanting isn’t BS; it really works, and BORSAO was a gratifying example of what happens when you do wait. Now if we could only teach V to wait for stuff.

*I swear I didn’t know that was going to come up when I googled it.


Liquidity support? Support these liquids, Harper

My Fellow Inebriates,

CBC reported today that during the recession Canadian banks received $114 billion in bail-out money.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper using a kitten to elicit your empathy—the way I'll get page views by tagging this post "cute pictures of kittens."

Of course we don’t call it “bail-out money” in Canada. We call it “liquidity support,” and it amounted to $3,400 for every man, woman, and child in Canada. Whereas 436 U.S. banks went under during the recession, liquidity support kept all of Canada’s lending institutions out of the shit, supplying—at times—more than 150% of those institutions’ worth.

Getting to the bottom of these numbers will take more than the efforts of a drunken bear.

Despite applications for full disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, the Bank of Canada refuses to release its accounting. Details of today’s report came from the U.S. Federal Reserve, which publicly released data on a U.S. program into which Canadian banks had dipped (in addition to taking their Canadian handout)—Canadian banks that ultimately posted combined profits of $27 billion when all was said and done.

Gimme that beer.

Meanwhile, little knowing how far underwater Canadian banks had sunk, we all continued to pay usurious credit card interest, got bilked on monthly “service” charges at institutions where the so-called services had long since been fully automated, saw the removal of services in return for said service charges, endured who knows how many dinner-time insurance sales calls, and—for the privilege of taking out a mortgage with one of these stable lenders—ponied up $20K in insurance money to insure not our risk but the bank’s. Oh yeah.

If the kids asked what a “bank” was we’d say it was a place to save money—a place where your money is safer than it would be under the mattress. Canadians often crow about the safety of their banking, but as it turns out, we pay dearly for that security.

So to you, Stephen Harper, with your selectively socialist impulse, bite me. I want my $3,400 back. I have a bar to stock, and you’ll be getting my shopping list.

Lucky me, I have a conservative MP to whom I can address my concerns.

SMITHWICK’S ALE—What to buy with that government cheque

My Fellow Inebriates,

It came completely as news to me today that the Canadian government does not and has never had any plans to subsidize my drinking.

My parents were characteristically insensitive about the whole thing.

I was talking about the hundred bucks per child my mum gets each month in the mail. Little did I know, the money in question represents not a small beer fund provided to keep Canadians happy, but in fact the government’s laughable and deliberately blinkered estimate of what monthly child care might cost. The $100-per-child benefit is sent to all Canadian families with a child under 6, to help them “balance work and family life by supporting their child care choices through direct financial support.”

As of January, the cheque has been halved because only one of the kids is under 6.

I just assumed the money was for beer because such a paltry sum couldn’t make more than a 15% dent in child care costs. I figured most parents received the cheque, snickered at it, snickered at the government, then cashed it and headed for the liquor store.

Okay, so it would be a bit of a departure from the norm if my mum took the cheque and bought, say, eight six-packs of SMITHWICK’S ALE. But even if she were willing—how sad it is that, thanks to Miss P attaining 6 years of age, it would cover only eight and not sixteen half-sacks!

My dad has enjoyed SMITHWICK’S for years, although he occasionally opts for GUINNESS instead. My mum doesn’t mind it, and probably gives it a bit more allegiance than it deserves because she has some Irish genes, but finds it less interesting than other ales and a bit too hop-forward than it needs to be.

As you can guess, I love SMITHWICK’S. It pours a nice rich amber with lovely foam and a slightly earthy but mostly malty aroma. On the palate it is crisp and refreshing with a longish, hoppy finish. It’s a bit of a cross-over between a lager and an ale, which makes it perfect all year—refreshing in summer but heavy enough for fireside imbibing in winter.

Once you’ve been drinking SMITHWICK’S for a while, its lingering bittersweetness becomes an acquired taste. It’s true—we’ve had SMITHWICK’S more than any other beer in the house over the years and I do find myself desiring its refreshing hoppiness every single day.

I was only joking when I suggested 6-year-old Miss P should earn some money. She doesn’t even really like doing her homework, and is otherwise such an absurdly happy kid that I wouldn’t want to introduce her to the wicked work force too soon. That and the fact that they don’t hire kids to sweep chimneys any more…because to do so would be demonstrably more archaic than supposing that $100 can buy anything meaningful in the way of child care.

But I do think my mum should get cracking and find a way to replace Miss P’s monthly $100 government largesse so we can stay properly hammered while we’re helping her with her homework.