Without any Breeding

Needing to restock my wine shelf, I made the mistake of wandering into the Vintages section of the closest Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) outlet.

What is Vintages?

I’m glad you asked. Let’s let the LCBO website answer:

Vintages is your gateway to discovering
the world’s best and most interesting wines,
from icons crafted in top regions
to eclectic little gems starting at well under $20.
No experience required! ​​

Now, I’ve come to accept that I can’t keep up with popular culture, the kids’ slang, and technology, but I did not know until this very day that the Wine World has moved on without me. You don’t believe me? Herewith, the tasting notes for the LCBO’s Wine of the Month.

Let’s take it one thing at a time, shall we?

Thyme, whether raw, grilled, or breaded and deep-fried like Mexican ice cream is not my favourite spice: It’s in the “musty” category that I eschew.

eschew (verb)  /əsˈCHo͞o/ (Not to be confused with /ah CHoo/.)
• deliberately avoid using
• abstain from
• refuse to chew

But Arboleda is a red wine so I’m prepared to be open-minded. I go on to the next descriptor.

Dark olives. Uh oh. All olives belong to the “strong savoury” category: also not my favourite. Still, I can sometimes eat black olives on a pizza without gagging, so I’m prepared to set this aside also, if only on a provisional basis. What’s next?

Wet cement. Excuse me? I look again. Yes, that’s what it says: wet cement.

All right then. I think we’re done here. There is no price point at which I would buy a wine that tastes or smells like wet cement. Or is it more about texture than flavour or aroma? Perhaps there’s a bit of sandy grit left in the bottle instead of the occasional yeasty residue?

No, no, and again, no. Where’s James Thurber when you need him?

It’s a naive domestic Burgundy
without any breeding,
but I think you’ll be amused by its presumption.

The notes suggest drinking this immediately or holding it for “5+ years.” Me, I recommend buying something else, but if it does sneak into your house despite your best efforts, go with the “hold” option, emphasis on the +.

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22 Responses to Without any Breeding

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    I worked for a while with an Ottawa editor who was taking a night school course in wine tasting. I asked about those strange scents and flavours that wine writers manage to find in the bottom of a wine glass. She said it takes a lot of training to discern them. You have to have them pointed out to you, and then — perhaps — you can smell them yourself. Or maybe you convince yourself that you can smell them.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – I believe that people vary in the natural discernment of their palate. I think that almost anyone can increase their discernment through exposure and discussion/training. I suspect that some of the language around wine-making — as with any art — can get a little precious.

  2. I’m with you from their description

    Never heard cement, wet or dry, positively or negatively, associated with a wine before.

    I checked the listing on the LCBO website and it says the same thing (not surprisingly)

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim R – It would have been funny if they’d used different material in the different venues. Maybe they were just trying to make someone curious enough to gamble $20 on getting a drinkable (maybe even interesting!) wine.

  3. Judith Umbach says:

    I thought those descriptions were supposed to be appealing! No wet cement for me. Training on tasting notes or marketing delusion?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – I thought the same thing! Maybe someone accidentally told the truth-as-they-knew-it, or maybe I’m not sophisticated enough. 🙂

  4. Ken from Kenora says:

    What came to mind immediately was the Python Australian wine sketch, wherein lay… Real emetic fans will also go for a “Hobart Muddy”, and a prize winning “Cuiver Reserve Chateau Bottled Nuit San Wogga Wogga”, which has a bouquet like an aborigine’s armpit.

    Prior to that….. BEWARE!” This is not a wine for drinking — this is a wine for laying down and avoiding.

    Sounds apt for the reported Building Block Red.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Ken from Kenora – 🙂 Yes, of course the Pythons got there first. It’s just too bad that there continues to be a “there” there.

  5. What an appalling invitation to a drink of any kind! I confess to some curiosity about the non-alcoholic brews that are emerging for people who now eschew alcohol in any potable form, although the multiplicity of ingredients gives me pause. I happen to like thyme very much, especially the earliest sprouts from the plants I used to grow. I can add a good wine to, say, a beef Bourguignon already sporting a thyme twig. Black olives and roasted veggies have no place in the flavour of wine. I begin to think some wine tasters are synesthetes who are unable to partition their senses in the normal way. Wine should taste like the grapes from which it is made, not like any other vine or tree or vegetable in the garden. And, unlike a cheese, it should not taste like the cellar in which it has been stored. The best place to stop messing with metaphorical fancies about a beverage that is supposed to be artful in its production of grape varieties is well short of the architecture of roads and buildings. Is it possible that the LCBO has been persuaded to hire an AI source to write its advertising? AI is set to destroy the English language, apparently starting with the palate.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – 🙂 As always, you raise an intriguing possibility that had not occurred to me. AI, eh? Perhaps. And FWIW, I agree with you about what wine should taste like, and what it should not. If only they would consult us first . . .

  6. Melissa Creede says:

    That is hilarious. I am so curious about this: is that a real thing including wet cement in wine? how did they figure that out? how much cement did they have to ingest to get the right ratio? is it a mistake and what did they mean to write in the first place? did someone who was fired slip that onto the label design before they handed in their laptop and badge? I have so many questions now.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Melissa – My assumption was that “wet cement” was merely a tasting note, not part of the ingredients list, but who knows/nose? Check out John Whitman’s comment for a plausible possibility. Life is full of these little mysteries.

  7. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – I have two comments.
    Comment #1: Only an editor would have noticed the “wet cement.”
    Comment #2: If you send an email to the vintner and observe in your very best Spanish on the “wet cement” on their label, they might send you a bottle or even a case of Abdoleda Carmenere 2021 in thanks.

    “Wet cement” is probably an ESL translation thing, but I can’t come up with any logical alternative.

  8. Tom Watson says:

    Makes me wonder how many more wines have wet cement as one of their ingredients. Only the hardest kind, I hope.
    But it’s a tip to keep a weather eye peeled for the ingredients label.

  9. Marion says:

    I wonder if they meant to say “petrichor” or “geosmin”.
    “”It’s a really potent material and it smells just like the concrete when the rain hits it,” said perfumer Marina Barcenilla. “There’s something very primitive and very primal about the smell.””
    from this article:

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Marion – I’ve been doing some Googling and plan to report this coming Sunday, but it does seem that “wet cement/concrete” is what the term-of-art is. Who knew? Well, like, except for all the wine writers. As for perfumers and primal scents, I wonder why they haven’t made us smell like chocolate yet. You’d think that would be popular.

      • Marion says:

        Some years ago when it was still OK to wear scents to work – and when we were all still going “in” to an office, 5 days a week – I worked in a space with six cubicles/co-workers and so there was some traffic in and out throughout the day. I sometimes put on a dab of vanilla-scented oil from Body Shop and inevitably when I did, people would wander over to my area looking for cookies, or brownies, or even just saying that they smelled chocolate, which I found interesting. Seems like for some people, vanilla reminds them of chocolate. I stopped wearing the vanilla scent there because of the confusion and extra unwarranted attention. I can’t imagine walking around smelling of actual chocolate. You’d be … popular!

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Marion – That’s funny – and interesting. I can sure see vanilla evoking visions of baked goods, but I’m surprised at the chocolate connection. What fun we had, back in a previous century.

  10. Barry Jewell says:

    “Climbing a streetlamp” – is that why the Mayans flattened the skull?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barry – Hahaha. Maybe. They were strategic thinkers, those Mayans. (And just think – since there’s no way to comment on the transient “posts” in the sidebar, this comment is attached to a completely unrelated post. Will it puzzle future internet archaeologists?)

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