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Friday Fishwrap
Three-Dot Journalism Lives

By Charles Olken

There is a reason why people wrap fish in newspaper, and mostly these days, that is because that’s all newspaper is good for. Just look at the latest maundering of our leading dailies.

The New York Times, which surely has better things to do, has managed to attack a Congressman who is doing his job for his constituents. You can read the details over at where the inestimable Mr. Heimoff has impaled the NYT for its hatchet job on the guy who just happens to represent wine country. We are still waiting for the winewriting side of the Times to object on the grounds that speaking up for wineries against the intense lobbying of the wholesale industry is not a crime but an act of great intelligence. Wine is, as you know, the single most valuable finished agricultural product we produce here in California. I have a high opinion of the NYT generally, but this kind of gotcha journalism is nothing more than fishwrap.


The San Francisco Chronicle has a wine editor who does not like California wine. There is just no other way to explain a set of opinions that appeared in print last Sunday in the Chron. We are told that the way to improve California wine is to ignore Pinot Noir, to abandon the AVA system, to move on to grapes which such high standings around the world as Vermentino. In short, we need to start over. All you winery folk have apparently got it all wrong, and you are leading the poor consumers astray. It’s a good thing I am into recycling because now I have plenty of wrapping to take with me to the local fishmonger. I like fish, and, as the cook for my grad school housemates, I was delighted when Friday rolled around because I could go out and find a nice piece of sole or salmon or a mound of scallops to prepare. My fellow Bostonian and very Irish-Catholic roommate, named Kennedy but not those Kennedies, used to say, “Charlie, you could forget once in a while”. Well, its Friday today, and those newspapers are going to be turned into fishwrap.


It’s summertime, finally, here in California. For a month or so, when things stayed cold and wet, it seemed like we were in for another challengingly late and light vintage that paralleled our 2010 experience. For sure, things are behind in wine country, but the weather has been sunny and seasonable warm in the vineyards, and if we do not mess things up, do a little crop-dropping as needed and do not panic the way some folks did last year, we can still be just fine. There is nothing wrong with a harvest that runs a bit late. Hang time is not just for overripeness. It is also for full maturity, and in years that are cool, long and not disastrous, we often get our best wines.


I tend to like a little salt on my fish. Perhaps, I can kill two birds with one stone and use the same grain of salt I now apply to what I read in newspapers for the fish that I will wrap in them.


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