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Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Blog, Personal, Restaurant Reviews | 52 comments

Bottom of the Barrel: The Ten Worst Wines in My Cellar of Shame




Have you ever tried a wine that tasted so unbelievably bad you couldn’t drink it?

I have.  Plenty of times.

And since I’m the “most interesting man in the world” who specializes in wines priced at under $15, my frugal predilections have subjected my highly-seasoned palate to some occasional instances of horror.  I’m talking about wines that are such an abomination they trigger a gag reflex.  I’m talking about vintages laced with such a pungent taste and aroma that your eyes water.  No, those aren’t tears of joy, my friends.  Stay thirsty.

Just in time for the holiday season, here’s my bottom ten picks which should be avoided at all cost.  In other words, even if they are free, you shouldn’t drink them.

Here are the worst ten wines currently on the market, each with a permanent induction into my cellar of shame.  Let the countdown begin!

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Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 in Blog, Personal, Travel | 7 comments

Black Sambuca: A Cathedral to Licorice




Today, I returned to sacred ground.

One doesn’t normally associate a cramped airport bar combined with a long flight delay with an epiphany.  But when the muse of inspiration called alcohol is involved, the blank canvass called the imagination becomes quite splattered indeed.  Call it the art of the possible.

My epiphany happened in “Providence” — which just so happens to be the airport located in the capital city of Rhode Island.  So, let’s just say it was a small epiphany.  I passed through here today for the first time in more than a decade, make that a decade and a half.  For those requiring quick geography lesson — the Providence Airport is the closest connection to the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos, located in nearby Connecticut.

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Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Blog, Las Vegas, Personal | 2 comments

Who’s Your Octo-Daddy?




Tonight, I am pleased to announce that I’ve become a proud new father.

I always wanted to be a parent.  Now, I can spend every waking day with my special little darling.  I’ll even obsess over this treasure at night, and rejoice when it keeps me awake.

My “baby” weighs 6 pounds, 4 ounces.  We’re unsure of its sex at the moment.  But we do know the baby is black.

This baby appears to have origins in Mexico.  There are at least three other brothers and sisters already in the family.

We have agreed to call our new bundle of joy — “Azunia”

Isn’t that a pretty name?  Sounds like flower petals.  Actually, more like a blue agave.

This beauty will be known as “Azunia Tequila.”

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Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Blog, Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | 7 comments

A Visit to Sonoma Wine Country: Chateau Montelena




Note:  This is the second in a series of travel essays about a recent visit to California’s wine country.  This past week, Marieta and I were joined by close friends and fellow wine aficionados Mark and Tina Napolitano in beautiful Sonoma County, where we enjoyed tastings at several local wineries.  Today, I shall focus on the experience of visiting and tasting one of the most famous wines in the history of California wine production — Chateau Montelena.


Visiting the famous winery known as Chateau Montelena is sort of like going back to your 20-year high school reunion and checking out whatever happened to the prom queen.

Is she still hot?

Sadly, no.

Now, she’s become a bloated glob of disappointment.

That’s basically Chateau Montelena in a simple cork twist.

I very much wanted to like Chateau Montelena — both the wine and the tasting experience.  Unfortunately, I was grossly disappointed by both.  My colleagues too, shared this monumental let down.

We all knew the marvelous story of how this famed winery basically transformed the modern wine scene, and initially put California on the map as a serious producer of fine drinkable wine.  Back in 1976, everything in great in wine had to be from France.  But Chateau Montelena’s entry into the blind tasting contest at Paris, and winning the top prize, stunned everyone — especially the French.  That seismic event essentially created what became a sort of gold rush to the west.  Only this time, prospectors were in a quest for the perfect cabs, pinots, and zins.

The early story of Chateau Montelena was captured in the vastly underrated 2008 film starring Alan Rickman (best known as villain Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard movie).  It’s a wonderful underdog story of how a few people changed an entire industry, and altered wine consumption habits and attitudes.

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Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in Blog, Personal, World Series of Poker | 3 comments

Drinking Brown Wine from a $5,000 Bottle




Anonymous Eccentric is such a wine tease.

Yesterday afternoon, she called me and announced a rather ostentatious master plan to crack open a classic bottle of vintage 1982 Chateau Margaux, one of the world’s premium Grand Cru’s.  One bottle retails for something in the neighborhood of $5,000,  According to my bad math that comes down to $150 a guzzle  Only the V-VIPs were invited to join this festive occasion organized for no apparent purpose whatsoever other than celebrating self-indulgence and pompous grandiosity.  Naturally, I made the haughty invite list, along with a few uber high-level casino executives, their names unmentionable until their deaths or someone offers me a six-figure book advance.

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