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Tuesday Tributes: Best of the Blogs
A Couple of Winners

By Charles Olken

When we conceived of “Best of The Blogs”, the idea was to celebrate all the good writing in the wine blogosphere, and on most Tuesdays, that is exactly what we have done. The blogosphere is a sort of free form, “y’all come”, town hall for wine commentary, and if some of it seems to make little sense, well, that is what happens when everyone gets their say. But, something else happens. People with interesting ideas who usually do not have a newspaper or magazine gig turn up with lots to say that is interesting, informative and occasionally just downright funny. Today’s “Best of” column recognizes two such recent efforts by knowledgeable wine folks who, absent the blogosphere, would be a lot harder to be heard from. Sit back and enjoy because these bad boys are about to take you on a wild ride.

Louisville Juice is written by crusty Tom Johnson from, you guessed it, Louisville, Kentucky—a place he readily admits is “not exactly the center of the wine universe, but oh well”. Louisville Juice is Mr. Johnson’s outlet for his pithy observations of the wine world, and if most of his work comes in short bursts, it does not take long to figure out that this blog is must-read material for anyone who needs a spot of sardonic brightness in his day. I must fall into that category because I read Louisville Juice and enjoy it.

Typically, I would now direct you to the blog in question, but, with apologies for appropriating Mr. Johnson’s writings without permission, I want to make sure you do not miss a word, hence I have reproduced his comments on wine and food in Chile here. (Cribbed from

“I have previously discussed both bathing in wine and drinking wine with breakfast. Today, we get word that Chilean hoteliers have combined the two in a wine-and-oatmeal bath:

“They put about half a bottle of Carmenere red wine (Carmenere is native to Chile and it’s the region’s finest) in the tub, fill it halfway with mineral water and bubble bath. They also throw in candles and a glass of Carmenere for you to sip on while you relax. Oh, and I can’t forget the oats soaking in the tub, as well as dry oats by your glass of wine. The oats blend perfectly with the red wine bath and, as you know, naturally exfoliate. Amazing.

“I’ve never really bonded with a Camenere, so pouring it on naked tourists seems as good a use for it as I can think of. Still, the very post-modern tendency to combine disparate elements makes me wonder if maybe the inevitable result isn’t a spa treatment like this:

“Feel the tension leave your body as the masseuse gently exfoliates your skin with pomace, the 100% organic residue of winemaking. Then, your skin aglow with antioxidants, you’ll be overcome by the gentle tingle of vintage Champagne, warmed to body temperature, rinsing and cleansing your pores. As you drift into blissful sleep, you will be wrapped in the finest, apple-smoked bacon and topped with three kinds of cheese…

“And then, suitably marinated, you will be placed in a tanning bed to broil.”


What better way to follow irreverence than with irreverence. Hardy Wallace, who masqueraded for a time as the Murphy-Goode social media menace, is as irreverent as the come. The problem is that people keep taking him seriously. Of course, it’s understandable. He takes serious topics and treats them with less respect than traditional wisdom thinks they deserve. That is what happens when someone speaks out and calls a spade a spade. Those folks who would rather see the land tilled with a spoon than a roto-tiller will complain that he is playing too rough. Maybe he is. I would suggest you go and see for yourself.

The blog is called “Dirty South Wine” and is found at Be sure to read the essay, “It’s Time To Put The Snobbery Back Into Wine”. A fair number of people misinterpreted it into meaning that the more abstruse and arcane we make wine information, that better it is to keep wine on a special plane all its own-—and the higher the better. I read Mr. Wallace as saying that too much has been made of the complaint that only insiders can understand words about wine. I look at my neighbors—-ordinary middle class folks, educated, professional but not a wine geek among them, yet they all know the relative differences between the varieties, often between AVAs and have a pretty good sense of what makes special wine special. While there, read the comments that accompany the essay. Bo Simon who runs the Sonoma County Wine Library puts it all in perspective with the following, “Don't worry about wine losing its mystery. Like the innocence of the vestal virgins, wine's mystery is renewable”.


by Tom Johnson
Posted on:2/15/2011 6:42:26 PM

Thanks for the kind words. I think I still owe you some kind of gift from the last time you said something nice about me. Perhaps I should send you some Kentucky wine. It's surprisingly alcoholic.

Yay Tom
by Samantha Dugan
Posted on:2/15/2011 8:10:40 PM

I happen to be a fan of Tom's and it's not just because he likes my wine was the letting me order deviled eggs when we met. Congratualtions Tom my friend, getting praise from Charlie is something I know well, feels lovely. Oh and thanks for not being one of those stick in the bum cats, aching for chuckles now that our HoseMaster has hung it up.

Kentucky Wine
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:2/15/2011 10:38:16 PM

I have been known to take a wee dram or two of said potion. Of course, I may be technically incorrect in that wee drams are reserved for the taking of Scottish wine.

Have you ever wondered why the wine of Scotland is called Scotch? Nothing else from that cold place north of Newcastle is called Scotch--excep possibly some funny eggs.

As for Kentucky wine, I have a pantry full. Back in my college days, it was my strong tipple of choice (Hearty Burgundy was my weak tipple of choice). On my 21st birthday, my father who had somehow figured out my fondness for bourbon, bought me a glass of Wild Turkey. It remains today the Chez Olken house pour.

I do have some of that sissy whisky, Maker's Mark, but I prefer more manly stuff like Elijah Craig, Elmer Lee, Jefferson Reserve and the like.

So, Tom, if you are ever inclined to share a glass of your local potion with me, please remember that I am not a cheap date.

Louisville Juice
by chris
Posted on:2/16/2011 9:21:25 AM
I read Tom's zingy blog to jump start my day.Watch for Wally's clever comments on Louisville Juice.
by Tom Johnson
Posted on:2/17/2011 11:37:34 AM

My friend David refers to bourbon as "Kentucky Merlot." Mostly, I want Charlie and Chris to face off on whether I'm crusty or zingy. I'm not sure I can be both, at least not for very long.

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