The Bluto Blutarsky Guide To Wine Appreciation

On the surface I have nothing against microwaved ramen noodles, downloading music illegally, wearing hoodies with school logos or any of the other inexplicably wacked-out things things that college kids do, but I see no reason why they should have all the fun while getting binge drunk.

For them, getting plastered means partying at a cool off-campus schwag-shack equipped with mattresses, porn posters, a mega-minibar, a combo pool table/air hockey/foosball table, an aquarium filled with dead guppies, a kegerator and a 103-inch flat-screen TV worth more than the entire block.

For me to cop a reasonable buzz, I must don the dreaded ‘business casual’, show up at a clip joint and spend twenty minutes acting like I dig people I’d rather smack with a Louisville Slugger, then listen to some self-absorbed, weird-accented vigneron yabber for an hour about ullage, soil structures, acetaldehydes, moustille and stuck fermentation. And finally—just as I’m thinking that the only thing in the world more depressing than this would be a tranny handjob in the Meatpacking District—I’m allowed to sample fifty pretty famous wines.

And for this privilege?  My only obligation is to spit it all out into a communal bucket and write down reams of notes.

Fortunately, over the years I’ve discovered that if you only spit half of it out and swallow the rest, nobody is the wiser.  And I assure you, my grasshopper, fifty half-glasses of wine is nothing to sneeze at.

Et voilà; je suis ivre.

But, Other Than Robbing A Liquor Store, Isn’t There An Easier Way?

Of course. If you can’t beat those dysfunctional Animal House dipsos, why not join ‘em?

I belong to several wine groups and we gather monthly to taste various varietals, vintages and viticultural regions. When I hold these tastings at my house, I encourage the group to gack into spittoons, because I don’t want to get sued when one of my guests plows into a minivan full of soccer tots on the drive home.  But, since we rotate locales, when we taste wine elsewhere, I’ve devised a few innovative games to make wine tasting more challenging, more exhilarating, more convivial and a whole lot less educational.

In other words, the full fit-shaced monty:

‘Jura Judge Judy’

Equipment Required:

  • Several cases of Domaine de L’Octavin ‘Cremant du Jura Blanc de Blanc, Arbois
  • DVD filled with Judge Judy episodes

Game Play:

While the maid opens the wine and fills several hundred tulips, have the butler put on the first episode of Judge Judy.  Then:

  • Take a drink if Judge Judy says something so blatantly anti-male that you assume the only reason she hasn’t been debarred is because the court needs more lesbians.
  • Take a drink and scream, “Hints of hazelnut and morello cherry over a light pettilance with a toasty brioche finish” every time some dead-beat boyfriend sues and wins against his smokin’ hot, apple-assed girlfriend.
  • Take a drink every time a negro defendant adjusts his package.
  • Take two drinks if a negro defendant and Burt adjust their packages at the same time.
  • Take a drink every time Judge Judy inadvertently slips in a Yiddish invective like ‘lechen mein loche’ or ‘kish mein touchess’.
  • Finish all the wine every time a plaintiff, upon being told to stop chewing gum, gets so pissed that he leaps over the bar and beats Judge Judy to death with her own gavel.


‘Up The Loire River, Down The Rhône’

Equipment Required:

  • Plenty of Domaine de Bellivière Coteaux du Loir ‘Hommage à Louis Derré’ 2004 and Cuilleron Condrieu La Petite Côte 2004, with a back-up bottle or two of  Vidal-Fleury Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2000 in case things really get rockin’!
  • A deck of cards.

Game Play:

Preparation for this game is half the fun!

Herge people

Every wine group has at least one pompous asshole as a member who looks like something out a Herge cartoon, whose clothes are basically a cry for help and who the rest of the gang secretly wishes would contract leprosy and die.

This is the geeterhead you leave out of the all-important ‘pre-game’ meeting.  First, you stack the deck, because it is important that the Mayor of New Dork lose the opening round, which, unbeknownst to him, will be the only round you play.

Let’s get started!

  • Choose a dealer, making sure it’s not the intended victim, then deal out one card, face down, to each of the group.  When the cards are revealed, everybody looks in horror at Dr. Dingledouche and says, in unison, “You lose!”
  • Penalty for losing, it’s revealed, is to take the rest of the deck  and go around the neighborhood trying to sneak a card inside each house without anyone waking up.
  • As the remaining wine group waits for the alarms, shotgun blasts and police sirens, they sit around guzzling and chortling—confident that their nemesis, Herr Dweebmeister, will be going ‘Up The River’ for a long time… and it ain’t gonna be the Loire.

‘Nebbiolo Ebola Bowl, or Name That Disease’

I belong to one tasting group where, of eight members, I’m the only one without an advanced medical degree.  I’m also the only one who knows shit about wine.

Doctors love to buy expensive wine, mostly because it shows that they can afford it; but in truth, beyond being able to name a few window dressers and a handful of top vintages, they’re pretty much in the wine world’s Special Olympics.  Which is the only reason they allowed me into the group: As a reality check in case somebody raises a really tough wine question.  Of course, that’s simultaneously insulting and flattering, but my own personal, nasty little secret is that doctors intimidate me almost as much as intelligent women.

So, for this group specifically, I designed the Nebbiolo Ebola Bowl.

Equipment Required:

  • Boatloads of Bruno Giacosa Barolo ‘Falletto’ 1996, Pio Cesare Barbaresco 2001, Antoniolo Gattinara Osso San Grato 2007 and anything else I can convince these megalomaniacal Mengeles to drag up from their multimillion dollar wine cellars.
  • A television with a DVD player.

Game Play:

Over the years I have collected some rather ‘sick’ (pun intended) videos showing thousands of dying, disease-ridden losers from tiny villages in countries so remote that slavery is still legal.

  • I have the illegal-immigrant servants slip this disc into the DVD player—(as a side note, did you know that DVD stands for Dissociated Vertical Deviation, which sounds very disease-like in itself)—and then set up the wine.
  • As each tortured and moribund savage comes on the screen, the doctors loudly shout out what epidemic they think he or she has contracted.  Whoever replies first with the correct answer gets to drink.
  • Every once in a while, I shout out my guess, which is always “Ebola!” and the doctors greet my lame misdiagnosis with a condescending snort as if I am their court jester or grinder monkey.
  • Continue until all the wine is gone, or all the doctors are dead, since in truth, prior to the game I have burglarized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Druid Hills, Georgia and stolen actual endothelial Zaire ebola virus cells, which I’ve placed in each doctor’s wine glass.

As it happens: Good career move.  I can reform the group with a bevy of hot, non-threatening and unintelligent women (who also look to me as a sort of wine swami), and now, I can accurately identify the clinical signs of terminal ebola infection.

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