Wine Bottles Make Great Bowling Pins

On wine’s wheel of fortune, lots of single letters come into play. So grab a glass and a dictionary, and let’s see if we can solve this puzzle.

From Cirque du Soleil to Oprah Magazine, undoubtedly, O is the flavor of the month.

Replacing the reign of E, O basks in the spotlight. One star performer is the “O” Wine 2008 Chardonnay. This wine stands apart from past vintages opening with a more steely and citrus expression. Bright edges are engulfed with under-ripe peach and drizzled caramel, while higher acid bites hard in all the right places.

O is a crowded space, and other notables include Sineann “O” Old Vine Zinfandel and EIEIO & Co.’s Pinot Noir “O.”

E thinks this hoopla is unnecessary. But have hope, letter E! In due time, you’ll be back on top – the newest black, the vowel to buy.

Speaking of EIEIO & Co., along with the “O” and the Pinot Noir “I,” the EIEIO 2006 Pinot Noir “E” speaks loudly from across the farm. A little funk on its junk, but what’s an Oregon Pinot without it? It eventually blows off, divulging ripe raspberry and blackberry with balanced acid and a lights-off finish.

Finished is what you may feel if you pull the magic J and Z, at least if Scrabble is your game. I see these two letters as game-breakers, but hardly so in the game of wine. Sineann J and Zerba Z show a sense of wild abandon.

Sineann “J” (Jezebel) is a balance of fruit and earth with ripe strawberry starbursting into sour cherry and moss. The wine is silky to the touch and smoky to the finish. Pull this J for a midweek meal and hope they serve a side of letters A and M (just in case).

The Zerba Cellars 2005 Wild “Z”, Columbia Valley, is a firecracker bursting with Zorro darkness. There are a lot of moving parts enveloped by ribbons of juicy black fruit, oaky vanilla and cocoa powder. This is the wine that tries to sit on your lap while you’re standing up. Smooth and inviting. No, enticing.

H is a significant other. While G and I are autonomous, H is frequently partnered with S or C. Significant, yes – but other, nonetheless.

With wine, however, H thwarts its independence. Eric Hamacher’s second label, the “H” 2007 Pinot Noir drops the Hamacher with a burst of ripe raspberry, red cherry and vanilla swirl. Light and friendly, this wine is simple in structure – and happiest at home. As I see it, perfect traits for a significant other.

Adding to the mix is the Columbia Crest 2007 “H3” Merlot. Dark fruit with a soft pucker, this wine is like a collagen shot to the lips. Its structure stands Cablike straight, so give it some time to arrive at the party. When it gets there, you’ll be treated to a firehose performance of red cherry, blueberry and hints of dark chocolate. A juicy balance throws out a long, smooth finish.

If you have an affinity for letter/number combos, the infamous DeLille Cellars D2 comes to mind. I was tipped off to Eugene Wine Cellars B2, but not much to say, as I couldn’t find the wine.

However, plenty to say about K Vintners! Oh yes, plenty, indeed.

The “K” 2007 Milbrant Syrah hurls black fruit, red fruit, olives and tobacco in an intensely woven bright plume. Insane! Strong and lush with acid and tannins working in tandem, this wine attacks your tongue with irresistible charm like the lovely, yet fatal voices of those Greek chickadees. Look away; plug your ears! Or simply succumb to the battering of this wine’s allure. In the end, a little battering tends to be worth it.

Next up, M is easily summarized as a mysterious muse.

The OS Winery 2005 “M” Klipsun inspires sultriness. It’s a glass of spicy darkness with sour cherry and woody anise. Expressions of bawdy fascination reveal with a tassel-twisting finish.

Another wine that shines is the Sokol Blosser NV Meditrina “M.” Unusual and tempting, this blend of Syrah, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel boosts expectations. Dark fruits with spice and must infuse your mouth with a velvet touch and a sprinkle of leather on the finish.

Speaking of leather, this M really wants to partner with S, or is it the other way around? But that’s another story entirely.

And then there’s the cleanup wine, the All-Star hitter, the catcher from A to Z. The “A to Z” 2007 Riesling from Oregon is everything fruit and then some. Crisp apple winds through pear and luscious pineapple upside down cake. This wine pretties it up with German blondeness in an elegant structure of shiny acid. A bright, fresh finale is cause for a standing ovation. Bravo!

As a kid I played “spell the word” in the bowl with alphabet soup or cereal. With labeled letters, party games take on a whole new meaning.

And if you tire of the brain games, wine bottles make relatively good bowling pins.

By Teri Citterman, Wine Press Northwest

Wine Press Northwest Spring 2010

Jackie Johnston/

Cover of the Spring 2010 issue of Wine Press Northwest.


2 responses to “Wine Bottles Make Great Bowling Pins

  1. Very clever, I saw this in WinePress NW’s recent issue and applauded them for running something engaging that’s far from stuffy. Hope to keep reading stuff like this!!

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