HEITLINGER SMOOTH LEAF PINOT BLANC (2011)—falls short of distracting you from your very worst fears

My Fellow Inebriates,

Last night Fluffy tried to smother me with his fur. This was after my dad tried to smother both of us by falling asleep on the couch with us under him. When he got up, Fluffy stayed lodged on top of me—i.e., he tried to finish me off.

I’d been expecting Fluffy to escalate his sinister behavior so if anything this seemed overdue. Fluffy used to train his mind powers on our townhouse, causing weird creaks and bangs despite the newness of the structure. But the new LBHQ is old, and old houses are supposed to make noises. So when this place started creaking and crashing, I couldn’t be sure it was Fluffy or if the house was just doing its thing.

After all, for all I knew, Fluffy was no longer possessed. The movers could very well have shaken Granny out of him when they put him on the truck, or perhaps she’d remained attached to the townhouse. Maybe her dead spirit had been sleeping when the movers came and she missed the boat/truck.

I wanted to believe these things. But OMG, when this house goes thump, it goes THUMP—how could it be anything other than Fluffy?

I didn’t want to ask my mum again if she thought her dead mother was hanging out in Fluffy; it didn’t seem sensitive. So I asked my dad. I wanted to know if he could detect a paranormal other under his ass while he watched movies on the couch.


“Well, how about me under your ass while you watch movies on the couch? How about that, Dad??”

Clearly my dad has no psychic powers. For someone with the dog-hearing he has for stereo systems, his sixth sense is nonexistent. How could anyone watch an entire movie with two bears wedged under his can, one bear of which presumably has the power to leave the shell called Fluffy and travel right up his rectum? Last night my dad was playing with fire. He was lucky Fluffy tried to kill me instead of him (or maybe Fluffy just wasn’t interested in exploring my dad’s bowels).

I realized last night that Fluffy is at least as evil as Martha Stewart—maybe more so, because he’s never made Bing Cherry Mojitos.

I survived Fluffy’s assault only because I can hold my breath really well—some might say seven years and counting. But last night was an eye opener. Not only is my dad oblivious to the evil around him, but his ass sometimes compounds the evil. No question my dad is generally oblivious.

Case in point: Pinot Blanc. This is a pet varietal that Mum and I tend to break out when Dad goes on a business trip. But at Thanksgiving we had it in the house just in case our guests might like it, and my dad got curious about it. Now, we’ve had some kick-ass PBs before, and we were hoping this would be another. HEITLINGER SMOOTH LEAF (2011) retails for $17.99 at our government booze store where it’s been promoted lately as a staff pick and turkey-dinner match. Assuming my mother’s turkey dinner ended up tasting like turkey, it seemed like a good bet.

German PBs can go either sweet or dry, and HEITLINGER lands on the off-dry mark. The nose is orchardy and citrus with hints of a not-very-influential pineapple having been in the room. On the palate the mouthfeel is reasonably weighty with moderate acidity. The wine lingers on the back palate with a slightly confusing play of flavors, summing up simply and rather forgettably.

If you’re partial to food and you like socializing, HEITLINGER won’t distract you from either. This feature shouldn’t be underestimated, as there’s nothing worse than regaling your captive Thanksgiving dinner audience with one of your best stories, only to have someone break into your narrative to exclaim how freaking awesome the wine is. This won’t happen with HEITLINGER. While not reticent with its display of bright yellow fruit, neither is it wearing a Carmen Miranda get-up. It won’t upstage you, your meal, or that story about your prostate exam.

If, on the other hand, you eschew solid foods like yours truly…well, you might want to add some interest to this wine. You could read a book while sipping, or practice doing a sexy dance. You could think about freaky paranormal happenings or compare Martha Stewart’s evilness with that of other household members. And if your house is free of creepy things like Fluffy, she will certainly win.

Oh, Martha, I can’t believe you’re really evil.

When it doesn’t just “taste like chicken”—making sense of a difficult wine/food-pairing problem

In my fantasy world there wouldn’t be any such thing as wine/food pairing. There wouldn’t be food. We’d all just be awash in booze. But for my friends who enjoy solids now and then, following some loose guidelines can enhance the eating/drinking experience.

  1. Start by considering the dish. Is your meal…
    • mild-tasting or intense?
    • lean or fatty?
    • acidic or creamy?
  1. Eliminate any varietals you dislike. There’s no sense purchasing a wine just to match a meal. While drinking a less-favorite wine with a well-matched meal may reveal the wine’s characteristics and increase your appreciation of it, your distaste for the vino may be insuperable. Buy a wine varietal you like.
  2. Balance the taste sensations by pairing mild with mild, acidic with acidic, and intense with intense.
  3. Choose tannic or acidic wines with high-fat foods; they cleanse the palate.

I’m worried that Hannibal Lecter might not be following these wine/food pairing guidelines. Let’s see whether Hannibal’s on the right track with his Chianti.

Not everybody knows what human meat tastes like. Chances are your local wine consultant doesn’t. Just try asking for a pairing suggestion. You’ll see hesitation in the consultant’s eyes, then fear—the fear that you’ll see through his/her bullshit answer and discern that he/she has no idea what to pair with maple-glazed human.

There’s plenty of specious information on the subject, so you have to be very careful that your wine consultant hasn’t fallen for the description circulated by promoters of the human meat substitute hufu (“contrary to popular belief, people do not taste like pork or chicken”), or that your consultant hasn’t merely sampled placenta, more akin to organ meats such as liver or kidney than, say, a human steak. No, you want an actual cannibal to advise you whether Chianti’s on the money with your human entrée.

Enter Armin Meiwes, a German man who gained fame in 2001 by killing and eating a volunteer he found through a website called the Cannibal Café. Not distinguishing between the Café’s intended satire and his own deviant appetites, Meiwes interviewed many candidates who expressed interest and then backed out, finally settling on Bernd Jürgen Brandes, whose penis he severed so the two could share it fried in garlic and butter. Meiwes gave the fully consenting Brandes a shitload of painkillers and bled him out in the bath, butchered and froze him, then spent the next ten months enjoying reduced grocery bills as he sampled Brandes every which way, even grinding up his bones to make flour.

This is a dude who would certainly know what human tasted like—at least one particular human—and he was happy to describe it in an interview:

“The flesh tastes like pork, a little bit more bitter, stronger. It tastes quite good.”

Cabernet Sauvignon—too rich and tannic; overwhelming with human’s delicate and salty flavor. When shopping, ask yourself, “What would go with pork?” and you’ll probably do fine.

So Chianti would go okay with human for supper, especially with a tomato-based sauce, but Hannibal Lecter could do better. Especially with German cuisine featuring sauerkraut and other acidic notes, I’d lean toward a Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc. If you’re dead set on a red wine, try a nice, light Beaujolais.

It’s really tough to find a great wine consultant. My own wine store has a stellar one, and I still don’t think he’d be up to speed on human dishes. Isn’t it wonderful to have the Internet?