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Mail Bonding 

Where the readers speak up

This quarterly column lets you talk back. And talk you have. Your letters are getting feistier and funnier. Keep it up, my fanatical wino friends. Ask or air by e-mailing

Tired of Sideways

"M." sent this hilarious note:

"WINEBORG: One who stops drinking merlot simply because of the movie Sideways. See also: WINEBOT."

Languid What?

Nathaniel Zimmer asked: "Long ago you did a piece on Languedoc [LONG gwi dock] wines stating that vintage is key there. How are 2002 and 2003 vintages?"

During the 2002 harvest, it rained like a mother, watering down the grapes, so the harvest ended up not so great… thus the wine isn't so great either. And remember that much-publicized hot European summer in 2003? The few grapes that didn't shrivel ended up very concentrated in the bottle, and there's not much availability out there. The good news is… 2004 is shaping up to be a fantastic year — look for those sometime this summer or fall.

Just Brewing It

M. David Gonzalez, head brewer at Rock Bottom Brewery in Charlotte, NC, wrote: "I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your 'Brews Clues' column [3/16/05]. I think I am an authority of beer and brewing and found the article to be very accurate. I completely agree with your three rules of drinking beer. I enjoy drinking wine, and have sampled dozens upon dozens of varieties … I liked how you made wine/beer pairings. For the wine drinker who might want to try different styles of beer besides the mass marketed brews, this is a great way to do it."

Kill the Wine

Gabe Loewenberg asked: "My wife bought a bottle of un-chilled chardonnay and threw it in the freezer to chill it quickly. She forgot it was in there and I pulled it out half frozen a while later. Is it going to be screwed up?"

I'm afraid the wine's flavor has been fried by now. Wine is super-sensitive to temperature fluctuation, and being frozen kills its freshness. It won't taste vile or anything, just not what the winemaker intended. I'm actually surprised it didn't explode in the freezer… that has happened to me. You should taste the wine anyway, just for education's sake… and a friendly, yet anal-retentive tip for the next time: set a 30-minute timer somewhere in the house.

The Sweetest Thing

Tommy Howard from Florida compliments: "Just wanted to drop you a note and tell you how much I enjoyed your "Sweet Hereafter" article [on dessert wines 12/22/04]. In my 21 years in the wine business, I haven't seen very many articles covering such a wide range in one article. It is refreshing to see a professional approaching the novice wine drinker … we need more of that!"

Wine Recommendations

Marquis Philips 2004 Holly's Blend (AU) Really cool wine, a unique alternative to the everyday, with 100 percent Verdelho grape — a Portuguese variety. Tart green fruit, with a mix of kiwi and lychee fruit. Finishes clean like a spring day. Sweetness = 1. $15.

Atlas Peak 2001 Sangiovese Napa Valley (CA) A bit like a Chianti with cranberry, cassis and dark cherry floating around in there. Has a nice earthy edge to it, too, with some acidity that can complement food. Sw = 2. $16 1/2

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