When I was in college, they didn’t have today’s wide array of shopliftable psychopharmaceuticals—a.k.a. memory-improving ‘smart’ drugs. If they had, I might have remembered in which pocket I’d stashed my cheat notes.
These drugs, under such brand names as Phenserine, Aricept and Exelon, work by increasing your brain’s level of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. A neurotransmitter—as you’d recall if you’d remembered to take your Ritalin this morning—is chemical that allows communication between nerve cells, unraveling neurofibrillary tangles, dusting off the synapses and finding that pesky cortical neurone that rolled behind the refrigerator.
They are used primarily in treating the dementia associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, the cognitive impairments of Down Syndrome, and to help Master of Wine candidates recall the technical issues surrounding bottling wine in Tetra-Prisma.
As Tim Atkin, MW will remind those of you going cold turkey on the methylphenidates, Tetra-Prisma is a revolutionary, state-of-the-art polyethylene/aluminum foil container that can reduce wine packaging by 90% compared to glass; as the T-P company will remind you, switching to their product will save the planet, even though in a landfill, neither polyethylene nor aluminum foil biodegrade. Ever.
The Atkin Diet
Tim Atkin’s credentials could fill the renowned wine cellars of Cricova—his work as an editor, critic and correspondent has spanned so many respected publications that listing them all would be word-count prohibitive.
He’s also adept at reminding those of us prokaryotic microorganisms who also presume to write about wine (and who are no longer addicted to Phenserine, and thus, have forgotten) that in the ultimate analysis, on the final eschatological Abrahamic Judgment Day, we don’t know shit from shinola.
At least he does so in as gentle and non-needling a fashion as possible:
By publishing a mock ‘miniquiz’ meant to give lay people an idea of the hurdles that Master of Wine candidates must clear before they may wear those two magical letters, M and W, after their name.
(Apparently the ‘MWWW’ I wear after my name—‘Master of Whinging, Wussyish Whinology’—is less impressive to colleagues).
If you want to take a stab at it just prior to stabbing yourself with a wine key, here’s the link:
‘A’ For Effort, Even Though Effort Doesn’t Really Start With ‘A’, Does It?
I made an honest attempt to tackle these questions, and was gratified to find that they were easy-peasy-make-me-queasy. I was quite able to wax philosophically, albeit slightly inebriatedly, on nearly all of them.
Here’s a sample of my crack responses (thank you, crack), which should indicate why I will never be a five-time Glenfiddich Wine Writer of the Year award winner like Mr. Atkin, nor urged to join Caballero del Vino, Chevalier du Tastevin or the Ordre du Bontemps like Mr. Atkin, nor become a Tetra-Prisma spokesperson like the pair of nubile, Über-smokin’ morselettes to the immediate right.
1) Is ingredient labeling for wine necessary?
Damn straight. If bottled water, Morton salt and McCormick chili powder have to list ingredients, why shouldn’t wine? I mean, who the hell does wine think it is? And anyway, wine geeks eat that kind of stuff raw. We don’t want to read ‘Grapes—Lots Of Them’ on the side of a bottle, we want to know which clone, who propagated it and whether it was created via cuttings or grafting; we want to know the taxonomic and phylogenetic origin of the yeast used in fermentation, the pedigree of the barrel-maker and how many heat units were required to achieve maximum ripeness.
2) How does soil influence wine quality?
Throughout my professional tenure as a sommelier, I have found that soil in wine is nearly always off-putting, which is why I make a habit of, and highly recommend, washing wine prior to pouring or drinking it. The safest technique involves use of a food-grade colander and warm—not hot or cold—non-fluoridated tap water. You may find that some heavily tannic wines like Barolo require a brush, and you should note that the FDA does not currently recommend using soap, cleaning agents or detergent.
3) Following the malolactic conversion, what options are available to reduce alcohol levels in finished wine?
The single most effective method is distillation. Granted, it is illegal in all states but South Carolina—particularly in those counties where slaveholding is overlooked as a quaint, regional custom—but the resulting grog can grow hair on your eyelids, make you impervious to pain and cause fat girls to become erotically desirable. Oh, and you can feed the leftover de-alcoholized wine to the hogs, who will ultimately also become erotically desirable, especially if you live in South Carolina.
4) What factors would you consider when creating a brief for a wine bottle label design?
I would leave out the fact that I have had five DUIs in the past year and that my uxoricide conviction was overturned on a technicality. And I would refrain from adding to the ‘Women should not drink this product during pregnancy’ warning label, ‘Women from India are exempt: There are already, seriously, way too many of you guys.’
I could go on, but I think I have already demonstrated that I know just as much about wine as the 98 pompous, swaggering, smart-alecky know-it-alls who took the Master of Wine test in London, Sidney and Napa last week.
And I think it is equally obvious that the only reason I am not currently sporting a proud MW is that, subsequent to my retrial and re-conviction on that trumped-up murder charge, I was not allowed a three-day pass from Central Michigan Correctional Facility to sit the examination.
Screw ‘em: ‘36425, MW’ doesn’t have much of a ring to it anyway.