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February 19, 2004
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Mistakes, I've Made a Few

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I've made some mistakes in my day, but never a million two hundred thousand of them at once. Yeah, that's the difference between the number of bottles Chateau Mouton Rothschild actually makes in a given year versus what I stated last week . If Mouton made a hundred and forty thousand cases of the stuff, that would be a million six hundred thousand bottles---or roughly enough to raise Lake Mead a few feet. What they do produce is around four hundred thousand bottles of wine that is very good, but NOT a rare commodity. ..so I can guaruntee that finding a bottle (or a case), today or ten years from now, won't be hard.

And speaking of mistakes, you'd be making one if you're a wine lover and haven't been to the mega-hip 55 degrees wine store and tasting room in the new Mandalay Bay shopping mall. Everything about this place is uber-cool, from the sleek wine bar to the unique racks displaying a most eclectic assortment of fermented juice from all over the globe. Rumor has it that surplus bottles from Aureole's world famous collection will find their way down the hall and into these sleek portals, meaning that some rare and very old stuff might come on the market at prices that even an old country lawyer might be able to afford. If I were a serious drinker or collector, I might make a habit dropping by 55 Degrees just to see what Sommelier Andrew Bradbury is stocking for the week. As it is, my wallet is on a serious diet after sucking down all that expensive Bordeaux.

But that doesn't mean I'm giving up good wine forever. And as much as I enjoy tweaking wine snobs, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't firmly defend the quality of expensive wine. A ten dollar merlot might be just fine for unwinding at the end of a tough day, but if you want to know what all the shoutin's about you're going to have to dip into your pocket and spend well over 50, and sometimes over a hundred dollars for top-drawer stuff. Because if you're going to develop a real appreciation of wine you need to see what distinquishes the great bottles from the plonk. I'm sure there are those who neither know or care what the difference is between a mineral rich, firm fruity and ethereal Alsatian Riesling, and a flabby, sour glass of two-buck chuck chardonnay, but I'd bet serious money that even the uninitiated could tell them apart AND tell me which one was better.

But I don't advocate drinking the best wine all the time even if you CAN afford it....because....at the end of the day.... If you have an appetite for life-stay hungry.

This is John Curtas

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