Punch in the Face Shiraz, 2008

This wine is preposterous.  It has a silly label—yes, that picture at left really is the graphic on the front of the bottle—says “kapow” on the reverse, is a tad Fight Club and a little vintage Batman and all 100% totally over the top booze.


Sure, it’s big juicy jammy fruity spit-roasting delectable knock your socks off shiraz.  We had it with a braised brisket (four hours with root vegetables, spectacular), a perfect foil for a big tasty red meat dish.  But 16.7% alcohol?  Really?  Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.  No stars in my books, rather it deserves an equally huge alcoholic Seth and Amy SNL “Really?” with a double swish.


Relevant sidebar: We were in Napa / Sonoma this summer.  While tasting some exceptional zins at a “very reputable” vineyard I told the vintner about some syrah we’d tasted down the road that was nearly 17% alcohol.  She said to me that’s because a) that vineyard waits until the grapes have been on the vine too long, there’s less water and with less water the grapes are cheaper to buy and b) the vintner at that particular house “likes to drink.”  Her words, not mine.  Seemed a bit snarky, but I have to agree—about the unnecessary alcohol content.  Sometimes it’s as though houses are competing for booziness, not body.  For me, for most people (wine reviewers, wine experts excepted, who live it seems in a la la neverland of fine vintages half drunk) wine is social and more often than not an accompaniment to food, a complement.  It’s not something to have two glasses of and need a nap.  One person at the table described it as “spicy” and not in a good way but rather in an Austin Powers mock innuendo.  If there was a good wine that was archetypal as not to my taste, this might be it.


Price: $25.99 at Liberty.


Market Liquidity: Just say no.  Better still, for a dollar less buy a bottle of the uber-refined and super smooth Highwood Distillery 10 year old Centennial Rye widely available across Canada.  It will last twice as long and impress four times as many friends and, when the need arises, get you just as drunk.


Postscript: See our comments on the NYT Wrath of Grapes feature here.

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