First, the bad news: Thanks to piss-poor performances by our lollygagging allies in everything alcohol, 2011 output is down in Europe’s top three wine producing countries, Spain, France and Italy.
According to an October 18 report in Bloomberg News, the shortfall is predicted to be in the neighborhood of 1.3 billion bottles.
The reasons for the slump are complex, and this is a column which prefers to view the world with effortless, child-like simplicity. But in brief, lousy weather in 2011 damaged vines in southern Europe, leading to depletions of storehouse hoards and leaving no inventory to fill the pipeline. Between a winter drought, a cold start to the season, hailstorms and a summer heat wave, this year’s European wine production is forecast to tumble by as much as 500 million gallons.
That’s an awful lot of rotgut for the rabble to relinquish.
“It’s historic!” cries Bertrand Girard, chief executive officer of Groupe Val d’Orbieu. “We’re short of wine. We’ve never seen that in three or four decades. Spain has zero stocks! Italy has zero stocks! We no longer have stocks to bridge the gap. We have no more entry-level wine.”
Sucks To Be You, Bertie
Now, the good news: Some of us have been preparing for such a crisis since the 1960’s, when we realized that the ‘Red Menace’ was more about cabernet than Communists.
In fact, as a child, I helped my father construct a wine shelter in our backyard—a reinforced bunker with steel beams across the wall and a concrete roof. We stocked it with vintage Bordeaux and Burgundy, leaving only enough space for us kids to camp out there—truth be told, when two of my buddies suffocated, we added ventilation holes at the base of one of the walls.
That shelter remains intact to this day, and by now some of those wines—1947 Château Smith Haut Lafitte, 1953 Château Haut-Brion, 1959 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands-Echezeaux and of course, our entire stock of 1961s, should be quite stunning come further wine shortages or a zombie apocalypse.
See, we were smart. We knew that ultimately, we would not need a bunch of 21st century bollock-free, socialism-loving Eurotrolls making our wines for us. These were, of course, the days before California began making wine that was actually consumable by people not on welfare, but it made no ultimate difference: If the atomic bomb had been dropped on Detroit—as our teachers kept telling us that it would be since our automotive plants were easily revamped to produce war weapons—we still wouldn’t have missed a hangover.
Why is That?
Because we can make wine out of anything, that’s why. We can make it out of lawn clippings, dried-up leaves from the maple tree, grapefruit rinds, chicken bones or coffee grounds—and, in a pinch, we can raid the rooms of our teenagers until we find a stash of reefer and make wine out of that.
It is simply the nature of the beast.
Therefore, for those of you who lacked the prescience, prudence, perception and perspicuity in between episodes of Perry Mason and Petticoat Junction to prepare, no worries. Here are a handful of recipes to prove that for real Americans, a doctrine of unilateral, isolationist laissez-faire alcoholism is the only way to go—so long as wine can be made from stuff you have lying around the suburban split-level.
- ½ cup dried golden chanterelle mushrooms
- ½ cup dried psilocybin (optional)
- 1 ½ lbs. sugar.
- 24 oz. jar canned mackerel heads in syrup
- 11.5 oz can Welch’s 100% White Grape Juice frozen concentrate
- 2 tsp. acid blend
- ½ tsp. grape tannin
- 3 ½ qts. water
- 1 packet Champagne yeast
Boil everything, cool to blood temperature, add yeast, wait three weeks and feed to cat.
- 10 oz. dried bananas
- 1 can concentrated gorilla urine
- 1 gallon warm water
- 2 lbs. sugar (this will vary, SG should be 93-95)
- 1 crushed Campden tablet
- ½ level teaspoon yeast nutrient
- 3 level teaspoons acid blend
- 1 packet Montrachet yeast
Boil everything, cool to blood temperature, add yeast, wait three weeks and feed to monkey.
- ½ lb. freshly ground coffee
- 2½ lbs. dark brown sugar
- 1½ tsp. blotter acid
- ¼ tsp. tannin
- 7½ pts. water
- 1 tsp. yeast nutrient
- 1 packet yeast infection
Boil everything, cool to blood temperature, add yeast, wait three weeks and feed to overachieving yuppie.
- 2 ½ gallons Monsanto ‘Liquid Concentrate’ Round-Up
- 3 lbs. organic evaporated cane sugar (preferably Whole Foods brand)
- 1½ tsp. citric acid
- 1 tsp. yeast nutrient
- 1 packet genetically-modified imidacloprid-resistant Brewer’s yeast
Boil everything, cool to blood temperature, add yeast, wait three weeks and feed to Republicans.