Even A Bad Wine Deserves a Second Chance – #MWWC22

17 Jan


There is a strangely masochistic exercise that wine bloggers participate in each month – the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. It’s a hotly contested fight between bloggers for bragging rights, a bump in site visits, the right to show an image on their site that they are a winner (if I could figure out how to put that on my site, I would – ’cause I’m a winner, baby), and an excuse to open something really, really nice to celebrate victory. Oh, there are a lot of losers and the losers do not, as is de rigueur these days, get a medal for just participating. The winner gets to choose the theme for the following month. Last month’s ‘challenge’ was won by Jill of L’Occasion and she chose “Second Chance” as a theme.

Now, I haven’t been entering an effort into these challenges lately. Not sure why………OK I do know why. I’m lazy, distracted, thinking that blogging isn’t helping me self-actualize and become the man I’m supposed to be. Question: what the hell will? Help me self actualize, that is. But, this theme hit a nerve. It woke up my creative juices, my imagination and two finger typing urge. Here I go.


I used to organize and lead wine tastings with a bunch of work colleagues and friends. For each evening, we had themes – regions, varieties, just about anything that allowed for some semblance of order. I’d choose the wines based on theme, price point, and a little adventure.

For one such tasting, we had decided on a broad exploration of Italy. So, I trundled off to the mother ship and picked up the usual suspects – among others, a Prosecco, a Sicilian Grillo (love the Grillo! Can I convince you to try a couple?), a Verdicchio, a Chianti Classico, a Primitivo di Manduria,  a Valpolicella Ripasso, a Moscato d’Asti, a Barolo, and a Brunello. The last two I picked from my cellar. Now, here’s the risk all wine ‘guys’ run. We all think that there are wines that are better than others based on wine geek celebration, price, and cache. We fully expect other people, if left to blind taste them, will agree with our assessment- roughly at least. So, by bringing in one of MY Barolos (about a decade old I seem to remember) and one of MY Brunellos (probably about the same age), you run the risk of your snobby bias being exposed – ’cause I love those wines. No, you must understand that I truly love paying the price for these wines. And, who wants to be wrong when they have a cellar full of evidence of the fact of their error.

Well, we began with the whites. Moved on through the reds. When we started to experience and talk about the Brunello (we were to discover it’s identity later), the person next to me, after a quick sniff, said, “This is horrid. It smells like my son’s hockey bag.” I tend to dismiss much of what this woman says – apologies to JT – but……it did smell horrid and reminiscent of my son Nathan’s hockey bag. And, consequently, not a soul at the table took a sip.

timhortonNow, in Canada, there are universal experiences: weather is a classified topic of discussion (premiere eeew, duexieme eeew, etc.); we seemingly only hang at one coffee shop which we call by a dead hockey player’s first name; and, we have all smelled the inside of a hockey bag. It’s a right of passage for a parent who can afford to equip a young child with armour-like apparel, get up at 5:15 am to take his/her aspiring NHLer to a freezing arena (as if a machine crafted coffee is going to comfort you there), and struggle amid tears and protestations to get the skates that you thought were the right size on this bitchy reflection of yourself. I’m sure soccer parents, football parents, etc. have the same type of stories. But, they do not…..I repeat – do not….have the bag.

I’ve since checked out my numerous wine books, Jancis, Hugh, Karen, etc. but I haven’t found the term, “hockey bag”, in any of the tasting notes. That could be because it takes a highly trained and experienced nose to pick the nuanced notes of leather infused with the body odour of a teen male. Or, just because it’s only truly evident in a certain wine – a Brunello improperly stored too long? Or, a wine needing a bit of a breath before it says,  “Hello”?

So, wait. What usually happens at these events is that as a few people wander off (short hitters), the remaining folks keep talking and it becomes a bitch-about-work and drinking event. And, usually, there’s enough wine left to feed that beast. So, about an hour and a half after the wines were poured, some brave soul (probably mistaking it for the remaining Barolo which was friggin’ fantastic), took a sip from the glass that contained the Brunello. “Hey, folks……….” “(Louder) Hey, shut up and taste the Brunello.” Which we all did. The funk, if I can lovingly call it that, had blown off and the wine was exquisite – deep, leathery, cherry pie. OK, I lie about the cherry pie – I can’t exactly remember. Suffice it to say that the wine was a beaut. And if not the unanimous ‘fave’ of the night, the second ‘fave’ for sure. Lesson learned.

So, if you bought several bottles of a certain wine only to discover on opening the first that it was shitty – relegating the remaining bottles of it to sit scorned by the rest of your cellar. Or, you open a wine to discover that some aroma or taste is interfering with its enjoyability factor. Just be patient and give it a second chance. You have nothing to lose and you might learn something – I just hope it isn’t that you discover the o-dear of the hockey bag. Because that is not the lesson here.

11 Responses to “Even A Bad Wine Deserves a Second Chance – #MWWC22”

  1. talkavino January 18, 2016 at 2:26 am #

    Very nice, Bill. Somehow we both managed to find practically the same interpretation for the theme 🙂


    • Duff's Wines January 18, 2016 at 8:02 am #

      Great minds think alike?


      • talkavino January 18, 2016 at 8:13 am #

        🙂 absolutely!


  2. the drunken cyclist January 18, 2016 at 9:58 am #

    Reblogged this on mwwcblog.


  3. Michelle Williams January 18, 2016 at 8:30 pm #

    You know what’s worse than a stinky hockey bag in Canada? A teenage boys stinky hockey bag in Texas when the season starts and its 110 degrees! Yep, I know the smell of a hockey bag, in fact I know the smell of a car load of teenage boys hockey bags. There are not enough windows in the car to roll down for air! That being said I absolutely love Brunello. One of my favorite wines! I am dying to know which one in particular you are speaking of but we both know that when a wine is big and old you gotta give it time for the genie to come out of the bottle. Patience is a wine geeks friend! Great article. I was excited it was about hockey as soon as I saw the CCM bag!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Duff's Wines January 19, 2016 at 9:35 am #

      I forgot that you are a hockey mom and a Stars fan! Yes, these kids can certainly create an aura. Even the little ones. And, at least our kids do that at -10 degrees Celsius.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jimvanbergen January 19, 2016 at 1:00 am #

    Great piece!
    The lesson I learned: Decant! Decant before your guests arrive! If you like, double-decant (back into the bottle after washing out the sediment). Give the wine a chance to breathe, to lose the funk, and for you as the host to make sure the wine is showing properly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. armchairsommelier January 19, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

    Great post, Bill! Hockey Bag is going on my list of favorite wine descriptors . . . love it!! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Marty January 19, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

    Bill…how do you vote?? I can only see “comments”, not “vote”.

    Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2016 03:12:48 +0000 To: fmtcon@sympatico.ca



  1. #MWWC22 Time to vote! | the drunken cyclist - January 19, 2016

    […] Duff’s Wines: Even A Bad Wine Deserves a Second Chance – #MWWC22 […]


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