Today's good thing is wine.
Last weekend we went to the 2004 Crush Party at V. Sattui Winery. Apparently during a prior wine-tasting pass through Napa, I bought a case of something at V. Sattui, and became a member of the Cellar Club. This was news to me, but I now have a little plastic card to certify this. (I also recently discovered that the phrase "card-carrying Democrat" really does involve the Democratic Party sending you a card when you donate money. So I now have cards certifying me as a Democrat, conspicuous consumer of V. Sattui wine, and frequent Petco shopper. All I'm missing is the stonecutters membership...)
So what goes on at a wine party? Lots of wine tasting, but there was also a "a doctor doing science" (their words) there to explain how fermentation works and how to measure sugar. In addition to this year's new releases of wine and some classics available for tasting, there were also some "new" wines, which are wines in the very first stages of fermentation (the grapes were picked only a few weeks ago). At this point a wine is mostly grape juice because it hasn't had enough time to turn the sugar into alcohol, but it has all the fruity flavors it will have when it matures. So theoretically you can taste the new wine now and decide if you like the fruity taste, and expect that the barrel will turn into something more closely resembling wine after a few years. You can also buy "wine futures", where you put down the money now and get a bottle of 2007 wine for cheap. I'm not ready to buy wine futures yet, but it's an interesting thought.
I have some halfway-legible notes about what wines I liked:
2002 Carneros Estate Sangiovese: This was a nice tart cabernet sauvignon.
2000 Suzanne's Vineyard Zinfandel: Lots of tannins - pulls the water right out of your mouth. I met Suzanne - she was nice. It has a more fruity taste than most of the other zins. I liked this one better than the 2000, which was lighter and less flavorful.
2001 Duarte Vineyard Zinfandel: This was really tasty and sharp. We bought a bunch of this.
2001 Sattui Family Cabernet: This is the staff favorite. I think it was OK.
2000 Napa Valley Merlots: I have a hard time finding a Merlot to like, because they often just don't taste like much - but this one had a really full berry flavor and was not like most other Merlots I've tried.
2002 Howell Mountain Zinfandel: This was a fantastic zinfandel. It's a little sweet, but really bold and peppery. It is possible I actually howled after tasting this one.
At this point, my notebook has lots of red stains on it, so I think that's the end of the commentary. I'm sure I tasted all the madeiras, at least twice, plus all the muscat and the angelica. I have this feeling that I didn't like the angelica, but that might been because of how much I'd already had to drink.
There was a monster hangover, but the night was tons of fun.