• Victims of Volstead

    Victims of Volstead

    If you thought Prohibition was tough on wine drinkers, imagine what it did to wine makers. The 13-year stretch from 1920 to 1933 just about killed the California wine industry. The Volstead Act’s ruinous disregard for a good time was especially disastrous for the Napa Valley, which had weathered the phylloxera blight of the late

  • Talking the talk

    Talking the talk

    An appreciation of 2016’s wines from Bordeaux appeared in last week’s Bloomberg Pursuits. The reviewer, attempting to convey the characteristics of more than 20 vintages, swiftly ran out of adjectives, so he started making them up. The Lafite Rothschild was “dense, serious and expansive. Its long, complex, subtle flavors unroll in layers.” Guess he liked

  • Eight miles high

    Eight miles high

    Today’s question: Is it a good idea to drink wine while flying? Answer: Yes, of course, unless you are the pilot. Ordering up a couple of those mini bottles when they wheel the refreshment cart down the aisle guarantees a brief interval or mellowness in your cramped seat with the headrest that doesn’t rest your

  • Frankenwine


    The potato chips we grew up on were crisp, slightly oily and wonderfully salty. All this changed in the 1950s when an Irishman, Joe “Spud” Murphy, owner of the Irish crisps company Tayto, figured out a way to add seasoning during manufacture. Enter the barbecue-flavored potato chip, one of the greatest infamies in the history

  • Make room for munchies!

    Make room for munchies!

    While we in Maine wrestle with marijuana regs, potency, access and taxation, the gentlefolk of Northern California already have progressed to pairing pot with wine. Perhaps they have grown weary of matching wine with food According to the New York Times, one Sam Edwards, co-founder of the Sonoma Cannabis Co., will serve you a nice,

  • “The wine is bottled poetry”

    When we learned that the government was tapping our iPhone, we slid the device into a desk drawer next to the bottle of rye and repaired to a downtown pub to consider our options. A refreshment was required to clear the head. “Pint of Guinness, please.” “Coming up,” said the barman. “And do remember to

  • Life is too short. Or not

    Bumper stickers, like tattoos, are public declarations of political, romantic, religious, individualized or artistic interests. Of course, public declarations, though common, are not for everyone. “I carry my adornments on my soul,” said Cyrano de Bergerac, who was not a believer in outward display. How we wish that same discretion had been embraced by those

  • The Russian connection

    The Russian connection

    Might as well be up front about it. You’ll probably hear about it on Fox News or CNN, so here goes: Members of the Cheers Wine Evaluation Team made contact with the Russians before the election. Money changed hands and, well, alcohol was involved. We swear we did not address national security or the easing

  • Forty days may not be enough

    Forty days may not be enough

    In case you didn’t know it, Lent began yesterday. This is the 40-day, Christian exercise in reflection and self-restraint that begins the day after Mardi Gras, which is an exercise in no restraint and all the excesses we should shun until Easter. The issue this year — the issue every year — is what to

  • Make sure you have a blizzard survival kit

    Make sure you have a blizzard survival kit

    Although Governor LePage and the State Police more or less ordered everyone to stay off the roads during Monday’s blizzard, we really had to go to work. Catastrophic events result in holidays for government workers, but not for us. Earthquakes, fires and floods are our bread and butter. Blizzards that blow people indoors force us

  • Don’t drink the water. (Why would you?)

    Don’t drink the water. (Why would you?)

    In 1971, during our trial honeymoon, we hitchhiked through the south of France. Except in Europe they don’t call it hitchhiking. They call it “autostop.” We caught lifts to Carcassonne, Avignon, Arles and Perpignan. At each stop, the drill was the same: the bride-to-be went looking for the cheapest hotel and we sought provisions. We

  • Skin in the game; or, size matters

    Skin in the game; or, size matters

    Our marital partner now resides in Norman, Okla., home of the University of Oklahoma where our daughter and son-in-law are employed. Said daughter gave birth to an adorable little girl in July and, having returned to work, needed infant care. The aforesaid spousal unit, being a retired person, offered to provide this service in person