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A Cult-Wine Corkscrew Massacre

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Nov 13, 2006 2:17pm ET

On Saturday, a friend invited me to a dinner party and mentioned some of her friends were, well, wine geeks.

No kidding.

Turns out her friends, nearly a dozen, were that and more. These folks knew how to shop for gourmet breads and cheeses, cook a savory mixed grill of tri-tips, shrimp and chicken on the barbie, set tables, buy wine, pull corks and wash dishes—sometimes seemingly all at the same time.

Most of them were on vacation, as it were, from the chilly hinterlands of Canada and Michigan, taking a break from shoveling snow, hunting for elk, ice fishing, or whatever they do there in the fall and winter when the weather turns cold.

Their remedy was to spend a week frolicking in wine’s equivalent of Disneyland, eating and drinking and exercising their way through Napa Valley.

After a warm-up white, a Francis Coppola Viognier, the wine scene quickly shifted into high-gear reds. We were outside on a windless autumn evening, sitting under heat lamps, a near perfect environment for hearty reds.

The wines were amazing, a sort of cult-wine corkscrew massacre: 2001 Pinots from Marcassin, both the Marcassin and Blue-Slide Ridge, which were fantastic; a 1993 Etude Napa Valley Cabernet, still young and chewy; a tremendous 1997 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet, smooth and multifaceted; a dense, tight 2002 Gemstone Napa red table wine; a 2001 Turley Hayne Zinfandel; a 1999 Spottswoode Cabernet; a 2003 Hagafen Zinfandel; a nice 1994 Ravenswood Napa Dickerson Zinfandel and a potent 2002 Sequoia Grove Syrah from Stagecoach. Sadly, two bottles of 1996 Araujo Cabernet were oxidized.

Whew …

By the time I left, at a sane hour, most of the bottles had worked their way to my end of the table (not an uncommon occurrence), and right in front of our host. She looked like she was hidden behind a fortress of wine bottles. Most of the Canadians were still standing, and I think there were still wines to be opened.

Turns out the lights didn’t go out after I left, and the party continued. Photos were taken of the crime scene (sorry, I’m not offering any), and apparently some of the people over-imbibed and were smarting on Sunday morning.

I felt fine, and when I opened my e-mail Sunday, I found this note:

“Well, my friend, even though my head is pounding this morning—I must say thanks. And even though my poor table outside is ‘leaning’ to the right with all of the wine bottles—I must say thanks.

Even though my head hurts when I close my eyes and try to remember each one of the wines and the distinctive characteristics each one had last night—I must say thanks.

What a fun night. The Canadians will be loving WS even more than they thought was possible for the rest of time. OK, now I need to go have some Advil and get back in bed.”

As for her party-hearty friends, well, they cleared their cobwebs by going to lunch at Taylor’s Refresher in St. Helena.

Their hangover cure: a milkshake.


Brad Coelho
New York City —  November 13, 2006 4:34pm ET
Mimosa, hair of the dog James ;)
John Fanaris
Venice, CA —  November 13, 2006 5:21pm ET
James, your evening sounds great. We also had a little dinner party at our place on Saturday and killed of some serious auzzies. We started with a 2001 Leeuwin Margaret River Chardonnay (98 pts by WS), then moved into the reds. A 1994 Penfolds Grange (96 pts) was superbly balanced. the 2002 Yalumba The Signature and 2005 Mitolo Savitar were excellent. Then out came the big boys: 2004 Torbreck Las Amis, 2002 Torbreck RunRig and finally, a 1999 Chris Ringland Shiraz. Each one was powerful, and so poignantly different, and all incredible. My wife, Noelle, made some great comfort food to go with this lineup, a wild mushroom soup with fennel, a pumpkin risotto topped with duck confit and the last course - grilled ribeyes with a tarragon dijon horseradish sauce. What an amazing night! Especially sharing it with our great friends Dale, Keith, Sam, Rob & Jola. The moral to this story.... we took the kids to Disneyland the next morning and had the most wonderful corndog on the planet from the Red Wagon Cart and the end of main street. oh, and a coke. hangover, exit stage left...
Lucie Sweda
November 13, 2006 6:19pm ET
Budweiser, Bong hits, and In and Out Burger. Burp.
La Quinta, CA —  November 13, 2006 6:54pm ET
Taylor's Garlic Fries, Blue Cheese Burger, and a milkshake!
Peter Czyryca
November 13, 2006 7:29pm ET
It's all about the Bloody Mary. Always has been, always will be. That, or an ice (and I mean ICE) cold beer.
Robert Fukushima
California —  November 13, 2006 7:51pm ET
And they say that California wines are too high in alchohol. I find the best cure for hangover is to stay in bed longer the following morning. Actually, discretion is the best way to go, but, too often, I am short on that.
Patrick Steube
Thailand —  November 13, 2006 9:03pm ET
Couple of paracetamols before passing out (that's the tough part), wake-up, mind over matter, 2-more paracetamols and a brisk 3-kilo walk.
Charles J Stanton
Eugene, OR —  November 13, 2006 10:05pm ET
A big part of that hangover is all of the water that has been squeezed out of your brain and then pissed out with the diuretic effect of the alcohol. The cure is fluids, and lots of 'em (and maybe a wee dram of the hair of the hound, just to take the edge off, and help the headache). Believe it or not, Gatorade, and not as a mixer for the Grey Goose, is the way to go.
John Peterson
LA, CA —  November 13, 2006 10:14pm ET
Well put, Robert. How can one ever figure that discretion thing out? I'm still working on that.
Danny Nelson
Oregon —  November 13, 2006 11:52pm ET
Ginger Ale and bacon.
Scott Boles
San Diego —  November 14, 2006 5:07am ET
Try to minimize the effects the night before with ibuprofen and as much water as I can tolerate. The next day, spicy mexican food washed down with a bloody mary and copious amounts of water.
Kirk R Grant
Ellsworth, ME —  November 14, 2006 6:11am ET
James, If I want to get rid of the hangover as fast as possible it's usually two aspirin and a 6 mile run (about 52 minutes). After the shower I've lost my wine haze and I'm ready to get my day started...
David W Voss
Elkhorn, Wi —  November 14, 2006 9:12am ET
Aspirin and coke before bed. "Most of the Canadians were still standing" recalls many a night of debauchery with the North American version of those hard Australians.
Sao Anash
Santa Barbara —  November 14, 2006 11:26am ET
Several very cold ginger ales the next morning, barley soup for lunch, and a brief walk in the evening, just to get some fresh air. Then you swear to yourself that you'll never do that again...until your friends arrive at your house a week later with a mixed case of new release Cali wines, and you throw caution to the wind....again.
Jeffrey Ghi
New York —  November 14, 2006 11:35am ET
Redbull vodka, with a carl jr's breakfast burger.
Alan Vinci
springfield, n.j. —  November 14, 2006 12:13pm ET
If I know it is going to be a heavy night of wine drinking, I make sure to drink as much water as possible to try and prevent de-hydration. The next morning I drink more water and try to get in a good workout (either jogging or lifting), followed by a healthy meal. Finally I decide what other wines I will have at dinner and start the process again. It's a viscious cycle, but someone's got to do it!.....
Ben Brady
Ames, —  November 14, 2006 5:58pm ET
....if you keep the wine flowing, the hurt never has a chance to set in
Angela Carmona
SF, CALI —  November 15, 2006 11:05am ET
Rick Kirgan
Mexico —  November 15, 2006 2:15pm ET
A hearty bowl of menudo, or, if unavailable, pozole.
Frank P Vigliarolo
New Jersey —  November 15, 2006 4:24pm ET
Who cares about the next day as long as the night before was amazing.
Joseph Karpowicz
Stony Brook, NY —  November 15, 2006 6:55pm ET
Alan, I follow same regimen as you, nothing feels better than sweating the alcohol out of the pores, only to start thinking of ways to fill them up again! nothing beats a good workout.
Kevin Longenecker
Reading, PA —  November 16, 2006 10:10pm ET
one eye open, one eye closed - one sinus pill, one hand cupped under the fawcet, one slurp, one second back to bed
Steve Shelton
Yuba City, Ca. —  November 30, 2006 1:56am ET
Experience, time, and a strong liver!

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