MONASTERIO DE LAS VINAS (2006)—Needs no elevator pitch

My dad is considering switching industries, which means he’s been paying some overdue attention to his business speak. It occurred to him this week that he doesn’t have an “elevator pitch.” If you don’t know what an elevator pitch* is, read on, my fellow inebriates, because everyone should have one. As I said tauntingly to my dad, even I have one:

drunken little bear

advising hedonism:

party on, people

He says this is actually a haiku, but whatever, people. My dad doesn’t have an elevator pitch at all. So today I learned how to write a proper one, because I love my dad, plus I want him to bring even more liquor money home, and a good elevator pitch will help. Herewith, the five steps to writing a good elevator pitch—in this case applied to a bottle of wine.

Monasterio de las Vinas

1. Who are you?

I’m MONASTERIO DE LAS VINAS RESERVA (2006), a Spanish blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo, and Carinena, aged 12 months in oak barrels.

2. What do you do?

I exude aromas of berry and spice while leering from the decanter in a purplish way while LB’s parents make him wait to sample me. On the palate I’m full-bodied and rich with earthy notes, firm tannins, and a long finish. I’m mature without having a musty Old World character, and you can’t really beat me for $14.95.

3. Who do you do it for?

I’d like to say I appeal to all drinkers, but I don’t think hard-core alcoholics (LB excepted) are buying me very often, as they gravitate toward massive jugs of vodka and giant boxes featuring marsupials. Basically, I’m here for everybody, but if you like to spread your $14.95 more economically, you might pass me by.

4. What do they want or need?

Most wine drinkers have no idea we have hit “peak wine,” and that global demand for  wine is outstripping supply. In other words, you might be drinking wine because everybody else is. Some wine drinkers choose wine because they think beer will make them get fat or watch hockey. Some wine drinkers follow Robert Parker, who gave me 90 points, although he probably only swished me around his gums for 30 seconds or so. Drinkers like LB are thoroughly indiscriminate, so who knows? I have no idea what people want.

5. How do they change as a result?

They often get really freaking plastered, especially if they have a bottle to themselves.

Okay, so this isn’t working out exactly as I thought it would. Maybe you need to be sentient, like we are, MFI. This last statement—and I hope you’ve been following along with your own notes for this exercise, my fellow inebriates—this last statement is supposed to be the key to YOU and what you bring to the table. If you answer the five questions, you should be able to take your answer to number five—and voila! There’s your elevator pitch.

I expect my dad will be so grateful for this that he’ll buy me another bottle.


*I found these five steps in a Tedx talk but then foolishly cleared my cache and couldn’t retrieve it from my history. The reason I cleared my cache is that I didn’t want my dad to know I was playing Candy Crush Saga on Facebook, especially since I’ve been dissing him for playing it. And then there was all the porn too, but whatever.

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.


PABLO OLD VINE GARNACHA (2011)—And some musings about the kids’ future therapy sessions

My Fellow Inebriates,

If you’ve noticed the reviews are getting a little sparse lately, you’re not imagining it. A recent parental resolution has curtailed our tastings.

It’s not totally drastic, although it feels drastic. There’s been no decision to quit drinking. But there’s been a decision to quit drinking every day.

Some of you may be applauding this idea. After all, small children reside at LBHQ and would prefer their parents’ alert attention and consideration (as opposed to useful fodder in the form of psychological baggage for later creative writing or filmmaking careers, you be the judge). Misses P and V will not perceive the value of such baggage until well into adulthood, and, to be honest, my parents aren’t sold on it either. I lobby pretty hard to keep the alcohol flowing here, and to ramp it up to dysfunctional levels, but it never quite gets there. My paranoid mother is convinced that the world is winding up to sock it to the kids psychologically; that even without alcohol we have enough to do to get them through childhood without being shot at school, blown up at a parade, co-opted into Scientology, or enlisted as Justin Bieber’s concubines; and that they will still end up reciting their fucked-up childhood stories to some overpaid psychologist.

And they had this bear, right? This bear was there all the time. It was mangy, and they talked to it like it was one of us. They bought it alcohol and then drank most of it themselves…

But mainly the new LBHQ policy of not drinking every day is financial. My mum thinks an excessive chunk of our budget gets spent at the liquor store. Even though nobody’s getting drunk, those here-and-there beers add up, and she’d rather have that money for wholesome family-type pursuits.

If they ever had a highball, that bear would be on the table with it. They’d let it stick its face in the glass. It was starting to reek like alcohol…

Sigh. It does make sense. If two beers get drunk every day—one for each parent because, contrary to what the children will one day tell their therapists, they don’t pour one for me as well—that’s 60 beers a month. That’s $129, on top of which you can add four bottles of wine, and next thing you know—conservatively—$190 has evaporated in a delicious, hedonistic vapor.

All right, so $190 sounded perfectly reasonable to me, and my dad probably wouldn’t arrive at that number; he’d say we drink much less per month, but then he wouldn’t go through the exercise of adding it in the first place, so we kind of have to trust my mum, who unfortunately is a counter.

Dad and I have a visceral distaste for counters. Why he married one I’m not sure; perhaps she pretended not to be a counter while they were dating. But now she’s that person who, when one of the kids gets a birthday invitation, thinks: “How much did they spend last time they give us a present?”—then matches it or tops it slightly. Classmates come collecting for charity—“What did they donate to our last pledge drive?” Girl Guides show up with cookies—“I’m sorry, I cannot justify paying $5 dollars when Golden Oreos cost $2.99.” You get the drift.

She wouldn’t buy my friend S’s cookies because they were five dollars. Then she spent twice that on an Argentine Torrontes. She said that bear told her to.

Basically, my mum is totally hateful and cheap, and she’s decided to punish Dad and me by declaring dry weekdays.

Admittedly this has made weekends something to look forward to. Last Saturday, for instance, we decanted a bottle of PABLO OLD VINE GARNACHA (2011). The source vineyard was planted over 100 years ago in Atea, Spain and boasts “dusty, dry slate soils at an altitude of 1,000 metres,” producing lush fruit that has achieved some fame, especially at the price point. PABLO sells for $13.99 at our local booze shop and delivers 14.7% alcohol—a win-win equation to satisfy even the most stingy wine-buying parent to whom a bear might be shackled financially. But is it a nice wine?

pablo old vine garnacha

Out of the gate you get a slight yeasty aroma. PABLO is pretty young still, but it’s got a lot going on. That breadiness is a minor chord rafting along with blueberries, blackberries, spice, and floral notes. It’s hard to let it sit in the decanter, but that’s exactly what we did, and for almost half an hour, people. Under my mum’s new directive, we’d been jonesing all week for a glass of wine; a half-hour couldn’t damage us. Could it?

Well, maybe, but all the same it was rewarding to wait. PABLO hits the palate with intensity, cherries and black fruit coming to the fore and a well-modulated backnote of pepper. Not overly complex, perhaps, but hitting some winning notes and overdelivering on a moderate investment.

All those years, we’d be in bed, and out in the living room they’d be offering wine to that bear while making sure it had a good view of the TV screen.

I’m still not on board with dry weekdays, but being thumbless I have no choice. Happily, my dad’s not really on board either; he showed up with some GUINNESS BLACK LAGER after work. Mum went tsk tsk but still grabbed a swig from his glass, because apparently that doesn’t count. Review to come. 😉

I thought if I dressed the bear up in doll dresses my parents would realize it was an object—just a thing that I could manipulate, and not a drinking buddy. I wonder if they ever really got that.