By Chance Pfaltz
I was confused when I heard a human describe a wine as “a racing, bright river of red fruit intensity, with pleasing notes of berries, violets, star anise, cassis, sandalwood and just a touch of…wet dog. Really? Wet dog? The implication was a bit frightening, but then optimist that I am, I saw the silver lining: more reasons to avoid the bathtub.
I was invited to try my paw at this piece, not to express my pet (no pun intended) peeves, but because of the acuity of my nose, and to me the wine smelled nothing like the above descriptors, but simply of fermented grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon to be exact. And since my nose is a thousand times better than your best Master Sommelier, do you think maybe the wine bottle bears its berry scent the way the emperor wears his new clothes?
People say the monks were behind fine wine, but really it was the dogs; it was Châteauneuf-de-Pup before the church poked its figurative . . . finger into things. And let’s not forget two breeds, now extinct, bred to guard the vines: The Deerfordinner hound and the Déjeunerauxrodents terrier.
My human speaks glowingly of wines that smell of “barnyard.” I too like the smell of a barnyard quite a lot but wine smells nothing like one. I might ask also, if humans love “barnyard” so much why am I scolded when I roll about or trot in with a big mouthful of barnyard animal by-products?
Kay’s pick: Jean-Michel Guillon, Gevrey Chambertin,1er Cru La Perrière, 2006 – Why do I like this wine? Jean-Michel is a consummate producer whose wines offer an example of terroir in a bottle with seductive berry and barnyard aromas. For something truly special—to savour or cellar—but always to reserve for an occasion you wish to cherish forever. $62
Chance’s picks: Faithful Hound, Mulderbosch, 2010 – Why do I like this wine? Because of the big white hound on the label. Okay, my snout actually did detect the slightest hint of star anise. See if you can too. And if anyone knows where this handsome fellow lives, pop my person an e-mail. Discreetly. They told me specifically not to use this space as a virtual dog park. $24
M.D. 20/20 – (known in elite circles as Mad Dog). Aromas of red fruits, brake fluid and high fructose corn syrup, complemented by black berry Nyquil and funnel cake accents. I’m learning quickly…old dogs can learn new wine tasting terms. Pair with Spam, Slim Jims or Vienna sausages. Why do I like this one? The name. It adds a certain risky quality to the virtual dog-dating scene…. Happy April!
Chance is the resident sage at the Pfaltz household, currently working on a book, Wet Dog: Debunking Outrageous Wine Tasting Terms. On this earth for well over a hundred years, in people years, she spends her days sleeping and reflecting. And this is what she has to tell us: Help others, even animal-others. Adopt from shelters, support local farms. Get up early and go to bed when dark. Slow down. Ban multi-tasking and take lots of naps. Leave the i.pad and get outdoors to smell the air. Feel the sunlight on your face and the breeze on your skin. Take long walks in nature. Let go of the little things, and love each other more. She says humans spend too much time accumulating stuff, and on things that don’t matter, when they should just love each other. If drinking wine helps us to do this, she’s all for it.