Chateau Ste. Michelle 2008 gewurztraminer

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on January 1, 2010:

Are we having fun porkin’ out on New Year’s Day? We think we know how to party with all the booze and chips and tailgate food while watching amateur football on tv all day long, but look around…Japan and Korea exhausts itself over three days to celebrate. Not a good time to be on the Chinese lunar calendar, ya know?

With all the drunken madness going on around us, this is a good time to review preventive and treatment measures for when we choose to participate, via peer pressure (yes, it’s not your fault you got drunk, but try telling that to the DUI patrols), on those times when “getting your drink on” means putting on a show.

Tips to avoid getting drunker than you should:
1. Get at least 6 hours of quality sleep the night before. A little tough to do when you’re still recovering from New Year’s Eve at the Needle.
2. Take some activated charcoal (eg. Chaser) before loading up. Alcohol is a “poison” to the body and charcoal tends to adhere to ingested toxins, thereby preventing the absorption of such.
3. Eat a hefty meal before heading out. The more food in the stomach, the slower the body absorbs everything. Plus, the food acts as a “sponge” so that some alcohol doesn’t get absorbed.
4. Moderate the intake of alcohol over time. White wine and other clear alcohols do not contain as much “congeners” so there’s less chance of a hangover the next morning. Food plays a part but drinking at a moderate pace allows the liver to detoxify the alcohol without letting much unprocessed alcohol (and byproducts) slide by and affect the other more important parts of the body…like the brain and the eyes, and for guys, the mouth. Expect one hour to clear the equivalent of two standard-sized drinks.
5. Alcohol isn’t always to blame for everything bad. The liver converts alcohol to acetaldehyde, which easily passes the blood-brain barrier as well as directly dilates the blood vessels which you know as headaches, flushing, and feeling warm. What alcohol doesn’t convert will continue on and do what it does best–denature proteins and depresses respirations.
6. Drink lots of water during alcohol consumption. Part of the reasoning is water is liquid volume, so think of it as zero proof fluid. Water (especially warm water like in soups) is readily absorbed by the body and the added blood volume signals the kidneys to work harder to rid of the excess volume. So, stay near a bathroom as you’ll be paying a visit approximately every 10-15 minutes while on a binge.
7. Avoid your “friend of a friend’s” tips–taking vitamin C doesn’t work; drinking alcohol to relieve a hangover–is just prolonging your recovery; take acetaminophen for your pains–right, insult your liver with booze then expect it to clear another toxic compound!; and drink coffee–another stomach-bleeder after the alcohol just dissolved your stomach lining.
8. The right treatments–sleep…in your own bed…by yourself; breakfast should be a bowl of thin soup noodles like pho, shoyu ramen, ramyun, or chicken noodle. The spicier, the better. Fresh juice or more water to help clear the remnants in your blood. Now will be the time to take pain relievers other than acetaminophen, unless your chronic medical condition does not allow it. Time is your best friend.

As always, this is purely opinion…not reliable (or liable) medical advice, so don’t bet your life on it…always listen to your body first.

No better way to start a new year than to go back to the basics. I took the Chateau Ste. Michelle free tour last week (the last time was 1985) and reacquainted myself with “Washington State’s founding winery”. I had a great time and learned something new…I believe the State’s first commercial vinifera planting was in 1951…and the grape was, of all choices, grenache! I found the historical notes humorous again…the winery was originally named American Wine Growers and located in the dairy town of Derby (now Woodinville). Most of the white wines are fermented right there while the reds get aged over in Paterson. The bottling line can box, if I remember clearly since I was enjoying a flute of Luxe sparkling wine during the tour, 5500 cases/day! That’s more than the annual output of most wineries around here. The 30-minute tour was a wonderful reminder of how well-run Chateau Ste. Michelle is, even though it is no longer locally owned. The gift shop offers an extensive list of souvenirs and wine essentials and the wines for sale include many that are not found outside the winery. Did you know they make separate bottlings of cinsault, mourvedre, pinot noir, and souzao/touriga nacional? However, you can forget the Canoe Ridge cabernet as score-chasers depleted the entire stock. Best of all was witnessing my tour ‘mates, a couple from Houston, be captivated by the tastings! I forewarned them that the Eroica riesling would blow them away and they ended up trying to figure a way to take a bottle back home. All in all, a very fun time and worth a re-visit.

Color: bright light gold. Nose: lychee, peach blossom honey. Mouthfeel: light syrup. Tail trail: 2 seconds. Flavors: peach, cantaloupe, fleeting back-end of sharp spice and citrus. Balance: true to varietal. Power: medium-bodied. Dimension: had some depth, although it was a flash. Finesse: perfect for quaffing just before a meal of Asian food.

Columbia Valley AVA. Alcohol: 12.0%. Residual sugar: around 1.5-2% is my guess. Likely cut with muscat canelli (like the 2007 was) but the fact sheet is not available yet. Rated: 88. Retail: $9. Value: $8. Paid: $6. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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