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Spotted Labels, Corks, and Other Hilarity

There is a good lesson to be learned in judging things by their outsides and not by their insides. We learn this from a very early age. In school, we are told not to judge a book by its cover. In life, we are told not to judge people by the colour of their skin. In supermarkets, we are taught not to judge a wine by its pretty, pretty label, calling us to break our palettes on the shores of its beauty.

Like a Siren’s song, Megan and I are constantly sucked in by packaging. Or markeging, as I call it. This week was certainly no exception. While Megan fell for a bottle that should have, by all rights, contained a sports drink, or Açai berries, or something, I fell for a name brand, letting its pedigree lure me into its cellar with the promises of popsicles, or candy, or puppies, or rainbow cookie puppies who poop candied popsicles.

It isn’t really our fault – we are children of a packaged era. I blame Mattel and Hasbro. I blame G.I. Joe, Transformers, and He-Man: Master of the Universe. I blame My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, and Get In Shape Girl.

I blame society.

On to the wines.

Wine: Sebeka, Cabernet Pinotage, Western Cape, South Africa, 2009, $120 MXN
Rating: (A GENEROUS) One Bottle

A big ole Meh. The label was the best part about this wine. That and the cork. The cork has leopard spots on it! What? Wonderbaarlik! The only reason why this wine got even one bottle was because we decanted it. If we had rated it on first sip, pre-decant, we would have given it negative bottles. That’s right, it would have sucked bottles away from previous ratings. There really wasn’t any point in finishing this bottle, which we mostly didn’t. It was used in the cooking, however.

On the menu: Lasagne, Tiramisu.

Okay. Okay. Just to begin … okay. Tiramisu is a stupid dessert. Baking is stupid. It’s for stupid people who don’t know how to cook.

Yes … I was responsible for the dessert. I tried to do everything, as we do every week, from scratch. So, I began with the sponge cookies. But I forgot to add the whole egg to the egg yolks when I added it to the egg white mixture before I added it to the flour and sugar mixture, which I sifted three bloody times. Instead of dough, I had batter. And I did such a good job on the egg whites! It was supposed to be something beautiful. It was supposed to be marvellous. It was was supposed to have people crying and laughing at the same time, wishing there was more of my amazing tiramisu, only to be bitterly disappointed to find that there was none more to be had. Why? They would ask, shaking their fists at the sky. Why, God?

But stay with me.

The pancakes done (damn it) we ate the main course and I prepared the tiramisu. I did everything right. Having learned my lesson with the dough-cum-batter, I focussed a fair amount of energy on making sure that the tastiest part of a tiramisu came out perfectly. Not having any marsala, I substituted Disaronno, imagining the hazelnutty goodness of my baking efforts being appreciated by all who were to savour them.

But stay with me.

When adding alcohol to a milk-based anything, it must be done slowly, so that the dairy doesn’t break up in the process. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows that.

But no. What did I do? Sploosh!

So, instead of tiramisu, we had something that looked like goat brains, mixed with chunky water, in a parfait glass, with pancakes sticking out the sides. Bon appetit!

Megan’s lasagne turned out fantastic, so at least the entire night wasn’t a waste. Plus, my daughter got to hear me swear really loudly at food, which should be good for some issues down the road.

Tip from the kitchen: don’t drink and bake. It makes you look like and idiot.

I blame the Spanish.

Wine: Fontal Roble, Tempranillo, Spain, 2009, $170 MXN
Rating: Two bottles.

This was the wine that we drank prior to dinner and the one that, to me, looked like a power drink, or smart drink, or something. Not bad, actually. Black currant & black cherry. This bottle is a cheerful and easy-to-drink red. Good value for the money. The perfect wine for an afternoon when you’re just not in a white wine mood.

It also makes for a great wine to boost your confidence, thinking you can tackle some stupid dessert that should be stupid easy if the stupid cookbook had written the stupid directions the way they stupid should, and not like a stupid Stupid.


We liked this wine; it was fun. Kind of forgettable, but what more do you need on a lazy Sunday afternoon?

We were saving the best for last but, sadly, like a certain tiramisu that we know, all for naught.

Wine: J. Lohr, Hilltop Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, California, USA, 2005, $544 MXN
Rating: Two bottles.

A high price does not a good wine make. Was it bad? No, it was not. Was it great? It was not great. It was decent, which is saying something, since it cost more than the previous two bottles put together. And while we’re on the subject of cost versus value, we don’t want our readers thinking that if a bottle is expensive, we simply won’t like it. But, if my wallet is meant to stretch its typical output, shouldn’t the product that it’s purchasing also redeem itself in kind?

We think so.

Mossy and chocolatey, this wine is very nice, and went well with lasagne, though I imagine a steak would have preferred its company. We enjoyed this wine, but certainly not as much as others we’ve tried in the past. And considering the choices out there for Cabernets, paying the extra money for this one just didn’t seem worth it.

Well, that about wraps it up. You’ll notice that there are no photos of the food this week. The sauce that you see is the prep for the lasagne. We forgot to take pictures of the finished product.

I blame the Spanish.

The tiramisu can burn in hell, for all I care.

Until next time.



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