Putt O'Nyos

in defense of Putt

In Putt Ponders on May 16, 2013 at 5:42 pm

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me the following questions, I would have, well, no nickels. No matter. I have answered them anyway, in hopes of shedding some light on my character.

If you were a grape, what would be?

Gee, I thought you’d never ask.

I’m tempted to say I would be aglianico: if left to my own devices I’ll go off on long tangents that do not ultimately produce anything of quality. I need to be reined in, and that’s just the start of it. At best I can be dark and concentrated, though my appeal is not immediately apparent. Just give me some time. I’m quite sour and definitely bitter, and while there’s the potential for elegance, I’m not nebbiolo. I’m lesser known and even harder to love – but when you get me, you get me. Also, you probably can’t pronounce my name correctly.

In truth, though, I’m more like lambrusco – grasparossa, if you must – in its traditional sense (not in its current faddish frenzy.) To be properly enjoyed I must be considered in the proper context, a not-so-serious one. I should be taken for what I am: a dry bit of froth that is mostly refreshing rather than challenging. I’m obnoxious when I become immodest and strive to be the latter. Most importantly, I go great with pork fat.

What do you think of the upcoming documentary Somm?

I cried the first time I drank Tokaji Eszencia. I cry every time someone asks for a “dry red.” And I cried when I watched the Somm trailer.

That seems harsh.  

Does it? I mean, really. “Insufferable” does not even begin to describe how those guys come across. And that’s coming from me, mind you. It’s one thing to recognize how ridiculous or condescending you sound (I do.) But those guys have reached a level that’s dangerously out of touch with reality. I’ll pass. 


join my tasting group!

In this is my tasting group on May 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Fact: of the nine new wine tasting groups that are formed every day in New York City, roughly six of them are no more than a wine-geek circle jerk. Fact: blind tastings, a favourite exercise of such groups, have the same “fun” and “educational” quotient as driver’s ed. Egos are honed more than palates and shouting matches inevitably erupt over who correctly identified the vintage of the Chilean carmenère. Participants may possess some sense of perspective and context – it’s Chilean carmenère and that was a lucky guess, you toolbox – but they are painfully unaware of their lack of the bona fide sort. 

Which is why you should join my tasting group!

Who needs to taste – or even discuss – grower Champagne when you can complain about the people you serve?

But Putt, you say, I already do that – be it behind their backs or at the dive bar across the street after my shift.

True true. But doesn’t it feel so much more civilized and legitimate when we vent together? I say, let’s bitch and taste and call it Education!

To this end I have prepared several discussion topics! Take a look!

Topic One – Malbec

Part I. No But Seriously, Why Does Everyone Go Apeshit Over This Stuff

(expected duration: 2.5 minutes)

Part II. How to Effectively Hide your Sneer when Guests Ask for Malbec

(expected duration: 2.5 hours)

Topic Two – Why Obscurity Equals Quality, Even When it Doesn’t: An Exploration of Pelaverga, Agioritiko & Negrette

Topic Three – Blind Tasting of Gruner: An Experiment in Masochism

Topic Four – What is True Chablis?

Part I. Theory: Kimmeridgian Marl versus Portlandian Limestone  (session ends in collective celebratory embrace and high-fives)

Part II. Putting Theory Into Practice: Communicating the Terroir of Chablis to Guests (session ends in collective consolatory embrace and weeping prompted by guest’s response, “I don’t want Chab-liss, I want chardonnay.”)

Topic Five – On Brettanymoces: “Crafted Peasant Elegance” and How to Effectively Use it to Silence Guests Who Ask for Something “Dry” and “Funky.”

Topic Six – Wine Trends

Part I. I Always Thought Orange Wine Was Gross

Part II. Don’t Lie, You Were Totally Into It.

Part III. Just Like You Wouldn’t Shut Up About Pet-Nats?

Part IV. Fair Enough. Let’s Let Bygones be Bygones and Drink Some Manzanilla

Topic Seven – Anticipating/Creating Future Trends: “Bitch Diesel” No More! Reclaiming Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc

Topic Eight – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: Of All the Things in The Wine World, You Specifically Ask for That?

These are by no means exhaustive. Rather, I like to think of them as a starting point in a debate in which we will all almost definitely agree with each other. That’s how we become Better Tasters, and consequently, Better Human Beings.

So join my tasting group today! We will taste and talk and learn and drink, all in the hopes of becoming that guy – you know, the one that makes even the most passionate and dedicated wine-drinker vehemently despise wine.





in defense of limericks

In this is poetic juice on March 20, 2013 at 8:07 pm

You are seeking wines by the glass

Instead you find this page (quite crass)

Pretend you’re in school –

Use the tabs, you fool!

That means flip to the front, Dumbass


I have placed in front of you a binder full of wine that may, at first glance, seem daunting. Yet fear not! The innumerable pages have been organized for your perusal with state-of-the-art technology: dividers. Yes, those bright yellow flaps are here to guide you in your Quest for Wine, a sort of Wine Bar Navi: always there to help with the same old information, but incapable of speech and therefore infinitely less annoying.[1]  


This may seem obvious, yet time after time I am utterly dumbfounded by the number of people who check their common sense at the door, disregard my five second user-guide speech, and flip mindlessly through the pages of the wine list – only to later ask for help: Do you have wines by the glass?




But – surprisingly – the stupidity of the masses is not the point of this post. Or at least not the main one. Rather, it is to opine that sometimes our opinions can be best expressed not in lengthy diatribes but in the sweet spot that lies betwixt the Tweet and the ingredients list on a Big Mac. Allow me to explain in a circuitous post.


Ernest Hemingway supposedly said that his best work was the following über-short story:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.


Since I’m no Hemingway and I’m angling for the comedic rather than the tragic, I’ll stick to limericks, the favourite obscene poem of the nineteenth century. [I refuse to believe in a city where even Chester A. Arthur would say, “Slow down, Mr. Mutton Chops,” old-school comedic poetry cannot also enjoy a renaissance.]


What makes a limerick a limerick? Five lines. A-A-B-B-A rhyme scheme. 8-8-5-5-8 syllable count. Throw in some vulgarity and a punch line and voilà: you’ve got a limerick.

For example:

There once was a pinot, quite bland

Yet somehow, still in high demand

Gris is not the same!

Seems I must exclaim:

Henceforth the grigio shit is banned!


But of course there’s more to a limerick than counting and rhyming. Not much, granted, but unfortunately mediocre (read: unfunny) limericks do exist. The key to writing a quality limerick is to start from the last line and work your way backwards: what do you want the reader to walk away with? It helps to phrase your response in monosyllabic and easily rhymable words.


So why did limericks become the Garth Hudson[2] of poetry? Studies[3] have shown that when faced with a limerick, 57% of Americans appeared as though they had just watched Inception; 15% elicited what can only be described as a “weak chuckle;” 11% expressed irritation; 9% showed no change of expression; and a mere 8% let out a legitimate laugh that assured researchers that they did, indeed, “get it.”

Extrapolating from such results researchers had no choice but to conclude that the overwhelming majority of the population is Lame. What in God’s name, they queried, is there not to like about limericks? They are five lines of fun, for fuck’s sake.

So what does this have to do with wine?

Oh, just about everything.

Not only do most people undervalue the limerick, too many also undervalue the limerick-like wine.

What, you ask, is a limerick-like wine?

A wine that gets to the bottom line quickly and makes it emphatically. A wine that takes you on a jocular little journey. A wine that brings a smile to your face and compels you to proclaim, “you know what? I’m better for having drunk that.”

The limerick-like wine needn’t only be pleasant, it can also be transgressive – the sort of wine that stares The Establishment in the face and says, “Fuck you. I see your fault-free, sterile wine and raise you some brettanomyces. Like, an almost unpalatable amount. And you know what? People will lap this shit up because it’s ‘authentic.’”[4]

Of course, this is not the only criterion we should use to judge a wine.[5] I don’t always want to drink limericky juice. But let’s not forget the significance of such wines: they may not be powerful or complex or profound or life changing or even remarkable. But goddamn are they a delight and a half.   

What to drink on those other occasions? Sometimes I want to drink a wine that resembles Hemingway’s story: declarative, intense, and thought provoking.

And then there are the times when you don’t want a wine to give itself away all at once; you’d rather it takes its time to reveal whatever it’s trying to say. Many wine professionals would argue that these layers and subtlety and potential for evolution make a wine “great.” They are probably right. But that would defeat the whole purpose of this post and since I would hate to start from scratch, I’ll just conveniently ignore that pearl of wisdom for the time being.

What else can limericks teach us about wine?

All too often when I ask a guest, “so, what do you want to drink tonight?” it’s as though I am asking, “so, what do you want to do with your life?”

Let’s put things into perspective: wine is just juice. Nothing of great importance hinges on your response. Really. I’m just trying to create some semblance of dialogue so that we can both go about our lives, I pouring you a glass of wine, and you, drinking it.

So how to answer this question? Think like a limericist: what is the impression you’d like to be left with? Figure that out and then work backwards. Or, better yet, let me do the work for you! If you can’t tell the difference between dry and sweet wine – don’t laugh, many people think they can, but can’t – simply circle one of the following:

I want a red/white/rosé[6] wine.

I want to be challenged/refreshed/inspired/angered/delighted/surprised/drunk/other.

What, you ask, do you do if you’re not sure how you feel? Or how you want wine to make you feel? Well, first off: get your shit together. Secondly, remember: wine is meant to be drunk. Try a wine. Does it make you feel something – anything – that will compel you to take another sip? Then, figure out what that something is, take that second sip, and enjoy.  

 In other words:

A list in front of you is placed

You: on what should my choice be based?

Me: I’ll help you pick

With wine, there’s a trick:

Think: do I want another taste?

[1] Confused? Find the closest twenty-something dude and ask him to clarify.

[2] I’m alluding to the fact that they are underappreciated despite their overall dopeness. Duh. Go watch The Last Waltz.

[3] That seemed more or less accurate when I made them up.

[4] La Stoppa Rosso, I’m looking at you. You too, Montenidoli Colorino.

[5] Arbitrary numbers are also a good call.

[6] Currently not offering “orange” option. That fad is over, didn’t you get the memo?