Several charter members of the New York chapter of the Quiz Show Lovers' Discussion Group gathered about ten days ago with the express purpose of sending Lisa and me off to the west coast with restorative anxiety-reducing hangovers. Now that all the hubbub has died down, I find the details of the evening returning as though in a dream...
[CUE DREAM MUSIC.]
I remember... I remember... Oleg and Inna were there, and .sasha... Kane... Andrew Munro Scott, acting as master of ceremonies...
[CROSS-FADE TO INTERIOR LA ROCHETTA, A PRIVATE ROOM.]
OLEG: ...us all in wishing our friends much luck in the West!
ALL: Hear, hear! [THEY DRINK.]
LISA: Let the games begin!
ANDREW: The category is Alsace for $100.
CHRIS: I know this wine. It is a pretty, gleaming pale gold color, with a rich, lush mineral-floral nose, plenty of nice bright lychee with a touch of cheesiness that mostly blows off with time and air. Sweet, viscous and round, but decently crisp, with a long stony-flowery finish. What is the Deiss Gewürztraminer Altenberg de Bergheim VT 1992 ?
.SASHA: Mmm... minerals...
ANDREW: Correct! Moving on, same category for $200...
CHRIS: Hmmm... pale gold-tan, a bit of sulfury funk here, but nice aromas of earth and mandarin orange in a honeyed base, although it seems aromatically reticent after the extravagant Deiss. A rich, strong, tangy earthy-citrusy wine with a sharp spine of acidity, lightly but noticeably sweet. What is Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal 1996?
ANDREW: Correct! Next category: 'Rocks that .sasha Is Carrying Around" for $100. If you please, .sasha. [.SASHA PASSES THE ROCK AROUND]
LISA: This rock smells like leather.
.SASHA: Well, it's been in my bag a while.
CHRIS: Um, what is a rock that .sasha has?
ANDREW: More specific, please...
CHRIS: What is a leather rock?
ANDREW: I'm sorry, the rock is slate.
.SASHA: German slate!
OLEG: Can I lick it?
ANDREW: Please do not lick the props. Next category, 'Wines of the Loire Valley' for $100.
CHRIS: Why am I not surprised that this category came up? This one is pale tan, waxy and tropical-floral on the nose. Pineapple, yellow flowers, chalk. Brightly acidic, tart, fresh, simple, clean and refreshing. What is Clos des Briords Muscadet 1998?
ANDREW: That's right.
MR> CONNELL: Let the record reflect my objection to the use of the word 'simple'!
ANDREW: So noted. Same category for $200.
CHRIS: Light garnet, very pale--light candy-cherry notes with a gravelly undertone. Tastes thin, tart & sharp. Fine tannins swarm over the tight tart cherry flavors. Crisp as hell, but fairly painful and pucker-inducing. What is Edmond Vatan Sancerre Pinot Rouge Chavignol 1997?
LISA: Ick. This is simply terroirable.
BRAD: Army ants... devouring my tongue... why, God, why?!
ANDREW: That is correct. Mr. Kane, if you cannot behave yourself I'll have security escort you out. Next category: 'Wines Kane Hates' for $100.
CHRIS: Medium ruby color, ambering a hint at the rim... truffley-mushroomy nose, slight caramelized hint, a touch oxidized, leafy-tea notes with leathery red-orange fruit that is feathery-loose around the edges, touch of carrotty or pumpkin spiciness, crisp, lean and earthy. What is Leroy Beaune-Sizies 1985?
ANDREW: Yes. Same category for $200.
CHRIS: Medium-dark garnet. Lush, ripe, rich nose--clove, earth, cinnamon in a raspberry-redfruit base. Equally rich to taste, lush and forward, but beautifully balanced, crisp and full-flavored, silky and delicious in a fairly forward style. Truly delightful, layered, complex and long. What is Maurice Ecard Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Serpentieres Reserve 1993?
LISA: This wine has a finish that won't die.
.SASHA: Like Rasputin or the 1870 Lafite, you can't kill it.
ANDREW: Next category: 'How do you pronounce "Oleg"?"' for $100.
CHRIS: Um... what is 'Oleg'?
ANDREW: I'm sorry. Anyone else?
LISA: What is 'Oleg'?
ANDREW: I'm sorry, not even close.
INNA: What is 'Oleg'?
ANDREW: Yes, that's right.
.SASHA: How about 'Oleg'?
ANDREW: That too is acceptable. Next category: 'Wine in Gimmicky-Shaped Bottles' for $100.
CHRIS: Medium garnet. Smells of cherries and leather with hints of violets. Tastes fairly nondescript, a bit thin and tinny but some crisp acidity and decent if lean cherry-berry fruit make it passable. What is Travaglini Gattinara 1994?
BRAD: This is boring. Has everyone tried the La Roque?
ANDREW: Please don't interrupt, Mr. Kane. Next category, the 'Olovyannikov Uncertainty Principal' for $500.
CHRIS: I have no idea.
OLEG: What is "One can only either determine the speed or the location of any given woman at any given time, never both"?
ANDREW: Very good.
BRAD: Have you all tried the La Roque?
ANDREW: Next category, 'Wines that Taste Charred' for $100.
CHRIS: Medium ruby-red. Plenty of creamy sweet vanilla, coconutty, reminds me of Hawaii. Some decent muted red leathery-cherry-berry fruit on the nose. Crisp in the mouth, with nice zesty acidity, but a smoky burnt-stick taste clinging to the red fruit turns me off a bit. What is San Vicente Rioja 1991?
KANE: This wine is not charred!
KANE: All right, I'll be quiet. Has everyone tried the La Roque?
.SASHA: Weren't we supposed to eat at some point?
ANDREW: Only contestants get to eat. Next category, 'Potent Potables that Yaniger Can Explain to Us' for $100.
CHRIS: Medium translucent garnet. Interesting smoked-meat, raspberry & black pepper nose, with a hint of eucalyptus. Still young and fairly tight, but opens up a bit with air. There is a hint of greenness that bothers some people with the initials BK, but I find it marries pleasantly with the smoky baconberry flavors. Lean but flavorful, with nice balance, very tasty. What is Ogier Syrah La Rosine VdP de Rhodaniennes 1996?
LISA: Mmm... baconberry...
ANDREW: Yes, that is correct. Next category, 'What is the Difference Between a Circumcision and a Bris?' for $100.
CHRIS: What the hell...?
.SASHA: I know, I know!
ANDREW: Go ahead, please.
.SASHA: What is '... a platter of salmon, a platter of whitefish'?
ANDREW: Correct. Next category, 'Scatological Wines' for $100.
CHRIS: Medium garnet. Plenty of nice funky, poopy-leathery hints here, with muted redfruit aromas underneath. A bit hard in the mouth, with decent cran-smoky flavors and some stern tannins swooping in on the finish. Not complex, but seems to have a lot of stuffing. I'd give it a little time to loosen up a bit, though. What is Château La Roque Pic St. Loup Cuvée les Vielles Vignes de Mourvedre 1998?
OLEG: Mmm... poop...
.SASHA: Vin de pay toilet...
LISA: Cuvée outhouse...
ANDREW: That is correct. Final category now, 'Grapes You Didn't Know they Grew in California' for $1,000.
CHRIS: Medium amber-gold, smells of plastic apricot, candied pineapple and orange rind. Thick and very sweet, tangy and viscous, but with some crisp acidity in there running alongside a carload of vinylized fruit. Candied, rich and simple, but not unpleasant in small doses. What is Joseph Phelps Eisrebe Scheurebe Napa Valley 1996?
ANDREW: Yes, and congratulations! You are now prepared for your voyage to the mysterious land of La-La! I'm Andrew Munro Scott for the Quiz Show Lovers Discussion Group; thank you and goodnight!
[CUE THEME MUSIC. PAN OUT]
BRAD: Wait, did everyone try the La Roque?
[CUT TO COMMERCIAL.]