Pinot Grigio #4

Cavit Pinot Grigio 2005 – For Thanksgiving, my plan was lots of wine at not a great deal of price. So I bought the Cavit 1.5L bottle. In the “discount wines” section (which is the area of the wine store that people with no self-respect go), Cavit is the most expensive wine, though it’s pretty much like calling it the tallest midget. It was exactly what you’d expect from at $14 bottle of MUCH wine. Quite drinkable if you’re a Pinot fan (much better than the Beringer, and infitely better than the Barefoot variety). It was a nice compliment to a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. 6/10.

Thanksgiving Week Goings-On

So Scott Fourre (the Jester himself) comes from Idaho where he’s stationed, and I go down to Don’s house on Friday (before Thanksgiving) for some poker. After losing my initial $20, I put in my last $4 and work that to over $50. Good times. Scott was also ahead, so it was a good job. Scott comes up and visits on Monday for some shenanigans and good times, as can be (sorta) seen in this picture.

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From there, we go over to Mark’s to watch some football. I’m not a big football fan particularly, but Matt Skiena was in the area from LA, and it’s good to see him, his girlfriend, and his brother. And I’m glad we went because this picture never would have happened otherwise.

baldies1_thumb.jpg See, it’s not just me who can’t take non-blurry pictures indoors with my camera!!!

Tuesday, I had my gig in the city, and it felt good to play original music alone after two years of not doing it. Good reactions, especially the two girls who were pretty much shocked that I was singing “Women Are Insane” in public. Oh well.

Wednesday came and went, and Thanksgiving happened with reckless abandon. There was much food to be had, and Susan did an excellent job as hostess and main chef. See her at work here.

susan_cooking_thumb.jpg The only chef I know who wears high heeled boots while cooking

The dinner was plentiful, and even the decorations were nice. It was enjoyed by myself and Susan, Susan’s boyfriend Max, Susan’s brother Craig, and their roommate Jen. Good times were had by all. Wine and Sangria went around, and there was massive amounts of gluttony and American lavishness! Viva la engorgment!

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And finally, the aftermath.

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While it isn’t entirely over, last night more or less put the capper on it with a fantastic game of Dash, starring an all-star cast of characters including Kevin and Angela from CA, Jay Marshall from CT, Sara from Long Island, and various other veteran dashers. For a list of the goodies, click here.

Diner Wine #1

Parkway Diner Pinot Grigio #1 – Now I’m sure many of you will jump down my throat telling me not to expect anything from a diner wine, and for the most part I’d agree. But just a week ago, I had lunch with the lovely Kate Kenney and had wine at a diner in NYC. It was decent, if not earth-shattering, wine. And, in fact, I’ve had the Pinot Grigio at the Parkway Diner in Elmwood Park before. It was decent. But last night, I ordered a glass and after two drinks, had to ask them to take it back because, whatever it was, it clearly wasn’t potable.

It was the first time in my life I’ve sent ANYTHING back at a diner/restaurant/brothel. I’m normally not picky and not one to complain. But this tasted like a squirrel vomiting in my mouth, and that was before the nasty aftertaste. No thank you. 1/10. Do NOT order the Pinot Grigio from Parkway Diner (the substitute White Zin they gave me, which tasted conspicuously like Sutter Home White Zinfandel, was acceptable.) Why did I give it a 1 instead of a zero? It wasn’t coffee or tequila, and until I drink something that bad, it won’t get a zero rating.

Malbec #2

Bec Malbec Nuevo – 2004. Another deep red wine from the land down under, by which I of course mean Argentina. I now notice that between two local wine carriers, I have about ten different Malbecs to sample, so I’m a happy man.

This was certainly a delicious Malbec, probably equal to the Traipeche I had bought. It was a bit tough to truly evaluate as I was drinking it during a Giants game, and drinking wine during football is like being a tough-ass French beer drinker – it just shouldn’t happen. But distractions aside, I truly enjoyed this wine. It had the same richness (meaning money) as the Traipeche and as Undead Red, at the same cost (also meaning money). I think it was a $10 bottle of wine. And best yet, no preparation needed. 8.5/10

Lyrics

So I remember during The Unusual Suspects, the cast would often bitch that my lyrics were hard to memorize.  And the way they spoke, it was like we’re talking Gilbert and Sullivan hard, or Sondheim hard.  I never saw it, really.  I had no problem memorizing them.

Now that I have a gig next week, and it’s only a half hour of music I’m preparing (with a few backups just in case), I realize I don’t know ANY of my lyrics.  So far, I haven’t made it through a set once remembering everything.  I think you could make a great drinking game out of it, since we’ll be at a bar and all.  At least make my mistakes entertaining.

Halloween ’06

Only two weeks late, and by popular demand, here as some pictures from my Halloween party. I incredulously didn’t take pictures of nearly anyone, as I expected other people to, I guess. So this album is painfully short on pictures. And there were some great costumes. But I will begrudgingly post my picture. I went as a dishwasher that stopped working.

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And, of course, someone had to slap my ass because of it. Although in this picture, it looks a bit more involved than that. But who am I to argue?

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And here are two other creative outifts: Sara went as Miss Trailer Park 2006, complete with stapled sash. Susan went as Superman (woman?) midst transition. Clarkette Kent? I don’t know the title, but here’s the pic.

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And finally, one of the two co-winners of my costume contest. I stupidly didn’t take a picture of Brit (the other co-winner) who came brilliantly dressed as the Operation guy, replete with tongs to try to remove her pieces and a buzzer if you missed. Well done. But here is a picture of the winner, Jeff.

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Until next year…

Professional and Personal Catch-22

So here’s the Catch-22 I’ve noticed about my life.  I’m single for much of it.  That’s nothing new – my friends have even taken it upon themselves to often remind me how single, exactly, I am.  But as for my writing, I’ve said for years (since high school) that I do my best writing when I am happy – not sad.  I am, as I have coined, the anti-poet.  And it’s not just happy writing either – I write my best sad or dark stuff when I am in a truly great mood. 

And I figured out today why – I just don’t feel like writing when I’m depressed or in a bad mood.  If I’m depressed, I’ll play piano over just about anything else.  So the impetus to create is more or less gone when I’m sad.

Now, this isn’t to say that I’m depressed every time I’m single – in fact I am someone who is very (perhaps too) comfortable left alone.  But living on my own without roommates for the first time has made me become aware that I would like to be single on my own terms, and not from lack of options (as is now the case). 

So, for the unobservant, where is the aforementioned Catch-22?  When I’m dating, it eliminates nearly all of my free time, as I like to spend most of it with my girlfriend (this isn’t as impressive as it sounds – my ‘vast’ free time usually still falls well short of female expectations).  But I am generally happy in a relationship, and that often makes we want to write, or produce my writing, or just create in general.  So then when I am dating, I often spend much of my free time writing, because the ideas are floating and the ambition comes back. 

And that often causes a rift in the relationship, which sours, and I’m left alone again.  For a brief time after the break-up, I write like a fiend, still inspired.  Then it fades, and the apathy settles back in, and I get really good at All-Star Baseball 2005 once again. 

But it’s been a year – I want to get off the Bachelor Train and get happy again – and since professional happiness is still also out of reach, I would love to try for personal happiness (it could have something to do with the FIVE sets of friends who have announced their engagment in the last 3 months – Congrats JMar and Jen!!).  As my good friend Jaclyn says, “You’ve just had bad luck with women since [2002], haven’t you?”  I cause alot of that luck, but yup, it’s been an impressive streak so far. 

And I want to want to write again.

Contest time (take 2)

So a week ago, I put a new contest up for captioning a photo – due to an underwhelming response (I assume because I picked a bad picture) I’m abandoning that picture and putting up a brand new one. Same contest, different picture: caption this sucker. There’s an esoderek.com bumper sticker in it for the winner. Enter as often as you’d like (and you can even write it as a “comment” if you want everyone to see your submission, or you can click here to submit it in private for consideration.

Good luck!

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Pinot Grigio #3 and Pinot Noir #1

Vampire Pinot Noir (A Transylvania Import) – I deliberately copied off the bottle with that parenthetical so you could see that I wasn’t trying to be funny – clearly it was they who were trying to be funny. Anyway, this was a Halloween purchase for about $9 that was interesting. First off, it came with a plastic cork – never trust a plastic cork. If it can’t disintegrate into your glass, then what’s the point? The first glass was actually pretty good – I didn’t know if I would like Pinot Noirs, since I was so obsessed with the other pinot veriatal. It was a decent drinkable wine. Then, since I don’t have one of those miraculous suction devices that allows you to keep wine for millenia without going bad, I refrigerated it, and after that, it went downhill. Fast. I had a glass two days later and it was a frosty shell of its former self. Tough to rate. Warm: 6/10, chilled: 3/10.

Echelon Pinot Grigio 2005 – I happen to really like the word Echelon, so I picked up this $10 bottle from the Esperanza Vineyard. Actually, I only went to Clifton to get it – they did the legwork by getting it all the way over here from Esperanza. This had the opposite effect as the pinot noir. My first glass wasn’t quite chilled enough (I’m impatient, what can I say) and it satisfactory at best. Then when I let it chill a little longer (as I’m told you’re supposed to) it was a very very good pinot for such an affordable bottle. The best I’ve tried so far – of three. Not the best I’ve ever had, but more than agreeable for $10. Hell, that’s how much it costs to see The Santa Clause 3, and really, which would result in a better time? Seriously… Rating: 8/10.

Corey-nanigans

So Corey came all the way from San Francisco, and I’m going to pretend it was just to hang out with me. Too much happened in our one day, so let me summarize with bullets and pictures.

  • Watching Shaun of the Dead
  • Getting told by a door-to-door Cablevision-saleswoman to call her “when I got serious”. She told me this several times.
  • Finding out that a “Bus the Tables” spell would be very practical in the diner RPG.
  • The Dialing 911 RPG, however, wouldn’t be nearly as fun.
  • Corey and I do a kick-ass version of 4 Non Blondes “What’s Up?”
  • Tequila still is the most vile liquid ever made. And I drank Petron, which is supposed to be the good stuff.
  • Corey has unusual fashion sense. (see below)

corey_hat2_thumb.jpg Both our heads hurt
corey_hat3_thumb.jpg “Can I leave the house like this?”

And then add some Jackie for some Jackienanigans. A good time was had.

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Oh yeah, and this one.

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Just another day at work…

So I thought it would be interesting to give everyone a perspective as to what I do at work, because it is not like your typical office job which many who read my blog might have (warning: this blog entry contains nudity). Most people begin their day, I would assume, getting a cup of coffee and going to their computer to check their to-do list, and probably their email (and hopefully this site). I start my day by watching a woman have a few martinis and attempt to swim on the floor.

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At this point, I imagine many workers would diligently begin their work, trying to get as much done before lunch. It’s no different at my job, except instead of diligently working, we wait for a ghostly apparition to come and spill four gallons of olive oil onto our workspace.

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This always increases productivity, our bosses have found. With the olive oil pouring down, the ghostly apparition usually will completely disrobe and sit in the olive oil. Why the apparition does this, nobody can ever be certain. But like clockwork, she’s there every day.

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It kinda creeps us out, to be sure. So while we’re taking our mid-morning break, our friend is usually flailing about, still completely naked. Let me tell you, that leads to an interesting water-cooler conversation or two.

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Still confused and, quite frankly, experiencing that midday lull in productivity while waiting for lunch, it becomes obvious that our “apparition” is nothing more than Selma from R&D. Every office has one of those practical jokers. How do we know it’s Selma? Well, Selma only eats olives for lunch. Off the floor. Very peculiar woman, that Selma. Here is a shot of her engorging herself on floor-olives.

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With lunch over, Selma usually goes away, and that’s when the real work starts. Now filled with energy, that’s when we start doing the coke. With as productive an outfit as we hope to run, we usually put out some BIG lines. See below.

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Like all offices, though, mistakes are bound to happen. Today, Mike made an error, and instead of the three burlap sacks of coke he was supposed to bring, he brought three burlap sacks of sawdust. No problem – any good organization can turn an error into a profit, and we are no exception. So at a typical day, we then begin to sweep the sawdust around, naturally.  And as a security device to make sure we complete our work, our employers have installed tazers on overhead strings to give inspiration to work if needed.
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So far, we’ve worked pretty hard and our bosses feel it’s time to augment company morale, so they have arranged today for us to take part in Gladiator Wars – those are always fun. Today, it looks like Jeff with his zamboni is taking on Rob with just an ordinary pushbroom.

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And Rob wins. He’s undefeated with that broom. Anyway, with our morale now at a daily high, it’s time to get back to work. This time, it’s not sawdust, it’s kitty litter. So we spill out bags of kitty litter. But we don’t like to do thing twice at work, we like to do them smart. So instead of immediately sweeping the kitty litter up, we decide to comb it, as any good employee would.

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Well, with the final whistle about to blow, it’s time to blow off a little steam after a long, productive day at work. Many people will do one final email check, while some will cut out ten minutes early to hit Happy Hour. At our job, we have Frogger races.

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Jeff stakes himself to an early lead, but loses to Jackie in the end because he falls asleep halfway through the race. Looks like it’s not Jeff’s day!
So there you have it. Just another day at work. How was your day?

Malbec #1

Trapiche Malbec 2005 – If you’re like me, well, quite frankly, I’m sorry. But you would also look at this strange wine and say, “Malbec? I’ve never heard of that. I’ve heard of Merlot… it has the same amount of letters…” Stephanie brought this over as a housewarming gift, so we gave it a try. And before I get into it, I need an aside.

I just recently found out that they are no longer making my beloved “Undead Red”, meaning the two bottles I have left are IT. But alas, I may not need them, thanks to Malbec! I don’t know how all Malbec’s taste, but this one was just like Undead Red, if not slightly less sweet. A perfectly palatable wine. Hell, it’s really good. I imagine it will be hard to come by – though it’s made in a few places, nearly all Malbecs come from Argentina. Doing some research, it is “one of the Bordeaux varietals”, and it supposed to have “characteristic notes of plum and anise”. But since this is MY wine review, and not a real one, I’m gonna say it kinda tastes like an angel – heavenly.

Now, rating this becomes tricky because I’ve never had another to compare it to. But it gets a solid 9/10, and a new place in the wine rack (i.e. wine small cabinet above the refridgerator)

EDIT: (11/22) I bought a second bottle and it wasn’t quite a 9.  It was an 8.5/10.  Still darn good wine.

Shiraz #1

Nine Stones Melaren Vale Shiraz 2003 – Yes, this complexly labelled wine was a purchase more for Susan than myself.  I had stolen some white zin from her a while ago, and she liked shiraz, so I bought this to make up for it.  I don’t have much reference in terms of shiraz as I don’t often drink it, and I’m not all that big a fan of reds.  Let’s also point out that I was eating Taco Bell while I was drinking this wine, so it’s entirely possible it could have been the best stuff ever, but there’s something to be said about proper mixers.  Anyway, this was entirely a drinkable wine, with nothing particularly standout.  It was a rich flavor that I didn’t entirely like, but also one that didn’t put me off.  An absolutely average wine.  But I give you warning: it was the most expensive wine I’ve bought so far in this adventure ($12.99) and it came with a screw-cap and not a cork.  Always be wary of screw caps.  They’re “not classy”.  5/10

Celebrity Sightings

So I went to a premier of My Name is Rachel Corrie.  The play itself was blah – not really holding my interest much (it was a one-woman show dealing primarily with Israeli-Palestinian issues, and we all know how much I hate one-person shows)  However, of note were the various celebrities that were there: Alan Rickman, Laura Linney, Sigorney Weaver, Marisa Tomei, and Michael Moore.  And to think, I brought my camera in case there were celebrities, and when they were there, I thought, “This was stupid.  Why did I bring my camera?  I don’t particularly care about celebrities.”

CNY Championships

So good golfer and good guy John DeBois (aka JDB aka ManMittenz aka Bizzle) asks if I want to go to the Syracuse area for a small C tier event. I say sure, as it’s one of the few days I don’t actually have to work. So we leave Friday in hopes to get to the course, play a round, and experience some shenanigans. We get to the course at around 4:30 with just enough time to see the course, and it was a good thing. The Oxbow Falls Disc Golf Course is one of the shortest I’ve ever played, at only 4400 feet, but it contains almost every shot in the bag. I used a backhand roller, forehand roller, backhand throw, thumber, flick, turbo putts. Almost every hole is birdie-able, but what makes the course challenging is if you are off the fairway, you are in impenetrable jail. You’ll be praying for a 5′ gap to try to hit with a blind thumber of desperation. But the fall foliage was in full splendor, so it was a great time to play. Here is JDB throwing on a few of the holes (as always, click to enlarge).

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So we play practice, throwing many shots on each hole to try to figure out some of the best routes. I think I shot around a +9, which is downright unacceptable. We go to the hotel and try to wrangle up some shenanigans.

Despite only being 20 miles from Syracuse, a big college town, youthful shenanigans are impossible to come by in Canastota NY. The Italian place we went to, while having great pork chops and one of the best Pinot’s I’ve ever had, seemed to harbor shenanigans for disgruntled married women in their late 40’s. So we retired to our hotel to watch the Mets lose a heartbreaker to the Cardinals.

The tournament comes and JDB and I are starting on hole 1. I par this very easy hole. Hole 2 (my favorite because it’s a great backhand roller hole) I take a SIX on!!! From that minute, I had to play Tourniquet Golf: cutting the bleeding. After that, I took another bogey and one birdie. The front 9, by the way, is markedly easier than the back (so say the course locals). I threw +3 on the front. So we get to the tougher back, and I start playing well – parring the tough long woods holes, and getting my birdies on the tougher easy holes (completely missing the little must-deuce dinkers in the process) I manage to pull my score back to even by finishing with two birdies, finishing -3 on the supposedly tougher back 9. It wasn’t great, but I ended up feeling good because it ended well (an estimated 979 rated round). I was only 4 strokes off the lead, and I was right on the cash bubble.

I had some lunch and the weather turned ugly. Heavy winds picked up, the skies got overcast, and the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees. We head out, and I was in 6th place of 17. I start on hole 2, my nemesis, and I threw a BLOODY FOUR! It’s an easy three hole and a tough deuce, but certainly not worthy of 10 strokes on the day. I then bogey the next EXTREMELY easy deuce hole. So I’m +2 after two easy front-9 holes. I pull out a birdie or two here and there, and then card a 5 (on the toughest hole on the course, but I had 3’d it the first round) Oh, and did I mention I missed FOUR putts within 20′? Yeah, those really hurt.

We get to the final hole (hole 1) and it’s a very easy deuce, so I was hoping to pull my score back to +1 with a birdie. All of the sudden, as the guy before me steps up to the tee, a blizzard literally tore across the area. Tremendous, swirling winds, hail, and bitter cold literally swept through. Here’s a pic:

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So I throw a perfect drive and the wind just smacked the disc down, and I take a 3, finishing at +2 for the round and the tournament. Not as good as I wanted, but my putting failed me completely. I missed 6 gimmie putts, and only hit two outside the circle (although one was a 50′ downhill putt), which would have tied me for the lead. But I still managed to sneak into the cash, thanks in part to a deep payout. But it’s my second PDGA cash in a row, so that’s a good way to end your PDGA year.

Oh, and how did Mr. Bizzle do?  JDB, who woke up early, telling me, “I got a tournament to go win today”, took home 1st place.  He captured his 2nd ever PDGA C-tier championship.  Good job, Bizzle.  I was rooting for you the whole time.

Out with the old

The thing I’ve looked forward to LEAST about moving for the billionth time is not, incidentally, physically moving everything I own 4 miles. While I don’t exactly relish the task, it doesn’t pain me as much as the following: repainting my old room. For those who didn’t see it, it was a thing of beauty, painted by the brilliant set designer Jessica Parks. Here are some pictures I took today before I started slopping primer everywhere (including, to a small extent, the walls and ceiling)

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Not only did I have to paint over this, I had to take down my stars. I had arranged them as they might appear in May (if the stars decided, of their own volition, to be especially blacklight-receptive).

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Notice Sagittarius in the bottom right corner. I mean, do those randomly-placed stars resemble a constellation? Wow, what a coincidence!

One more look:

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Derek’s Childlike Room: 2004-2006

(Oh, and before anyone posts, here’s my admission – the reason I resisted getting a digital camera all these years is because I CAN’T TAKE INDOOR PICTURES WITHOUT THEM BEING BLURRY! I simply can’t. These were the best 4 out of maybe a dozen pictures I tried before getting frustrated and giving up.)

Lighting problems

So apparently when my old landlord said, “I pretty much have buyers – I’m just running a credit check on them”, she meant, “I will still need to show this apartment to dozens of people.”  Not being able to read women whatsoever, I turned the power off at my old place, thinking I was more or less done with it (and whatever I needed to do still I could do during the day)  Ha.  Boy, she’s not very happy with me.

Anyone know how to light an entire apartment without ANY power (or any ability to run power from the downstairs neighbor, who is having a large dinner party?)  Looks like I’m buying some candles, and pronto.

Pinot Grigio #2

Bianco Pinot Grigio 2004 – This one starts off with “Francis Coppola presents”, and has a picture of a very demure woman with white gloves pouring herself a glass of Bianco. And really, if an award-winning filmmaker knows anything, it’s how to get drunk. So I gave this California wine a try. Let me tell you, this was definitely a smooth wine, and by smooth, I of course mean it doesn’t have little bits of cork floating in it, which seems to be prevalent in many of the wines I sample. Maybe I need to refine my corkscrew skills. Anyhow, this was a delightful wine with a soft initial taste and a pleasant residual taste. While slightly tart (if that’s the right word – I mean it kinda hits you in the jowels) it is still a solid wine. I think it’s around a $10 bottle of wine, which I got for 20% off because I, for some reason, joined for free a wine store member’s club a while back. I was satisfied with this one. 7/10

Pinot Grigio #1

Now I’m gonna be biased – I like Pinot Grigio. It’s “my wine”. There’s very few I’ve disliked, so my reviews of Pinot’s are gonna be a bit biased and numerically might have trouble standing up to other wines. Disclaimer out of the way, let me say that yesterday I tried a new one.

Barefoot Pinot Grigio – based out of California, this company manufactures a large array of wines, one or two I’ve tried before, but never my favorite. Odd, considering how inexpensive it is ($5.99) It was actually bought for me as a gift for doing my downstairs roommate a big favor. So what’s the verdict? The wine has an overpowering and rather acrid initial flavor, and not in a good way at all. Oddly, though, when the initial bang goes away, the aftertaste is actually fairly pleasant. The only comparison I can think of is this: imagine getting punched in the neck. Not fun at all, and it stings. But imagine a punch where, after the initial pain fades, it feels rather like a massage. That’s what this wine is like. But I put this to you: is it worth being punched in the neck? I think not. 4/10