color and aroma

For the media, sex is the topic du jour; especially the New York dailies. For days, they were awash in headlines such as "Girls! Girls! Girls," that mimicked the old Times Square. The copy referred to David Paterson, the Empire State's new governor, who apparently gave several amours a door prize -- state jobs. At least Eliot Spitzer paid for the extracurricular himself.

Sadly, the Steamroller is gone. Crusaders may not be personable; I doubt anyone claimed Elliott Ness as their BFF, but they are effective. Still, if a man says he can handle responsibility -- be it Spitzer or Sens. Craig and Vitter -- he can brave his own downfall. Solo. Ironically, Craig and Vitter, both family-values Republicans embroiled in sex scandals, kept their posts. In Washington, unlike Albany, it's almost impossible to lose your job, unless you're voted out or run over by an 18-wheeler.

Here's my beef: Why do powerful men equate fantasy with schtupping a faux swimsuit model? Unlike, say, dreaming of something truly fantastic: End the war! Save the market! If, as some commentators suggest, alpha males like to pay for humiliation, give me their wallets. I'll run up enough charges to keep them in tears for years.

Failing that, I'm getting a hobby, thanks to a new bimonthly.

Billed as "the wine magazine for everyone," color and aroma, lowercase like e.e. cummings, is a wine lifestyle magazine. Its initial reach is the hotels, restaurants and wineries of California, but by year's-end, it plans distribution in key cities: Chicago, New York, Las Vegas. On the magazine's Web site, Brandon Beeson, president and executive publisher, says he envisioned a pub that "elegantly intertwines the eminence of Orange County with the mystique of wine culture." For many, the "mystique" is explaining the difference between a $4.99 Chilean merlot and Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 1996 for $287 -- or as my nephew calls it, "fancy grape juice." Just once, I'd like to cast a disparaging eye at the snotty waiter who recommends a Château Hyot '95 and sneer: "What are we, animals!"

Understanding wine is an acquired taste. It's also part of the class wars. In the mid-'80s, billionaire Malcolm Forbes paid an estimated $155,000 for a wine bottle believed to be from Thomas Jefferson's collection. It was put on display under strong lights and at the wrong angle. Eventually, the cork fell into the bottle, and the wine lost its value. I learned this on the Internet. (I Google because I care.) I bet he ordered Scotch on hearing the news. However, given the market swings, we're all looking for something to assuage anxiety, and color and aroma can help.

It covers wine, food, travel, though mostly wine. The debut issue concentrates on California vintages. The focus is fairly basic; Wine Spectator this isn't. "Decoding the Grape" explains the terms we hear, but few know. For instance: "big" means a wine with lots of structure, flavor and body, usually 14% alcohol. "Chewy" implies fruit-forward with sweetness on the tip of the tongue. Happily for amateur oenophiles, the magazine will run through the alphabet in succeeding issues. There are also user-friendly stories on the phenom of cult wines and pairing wine and cheese.

Or follow c and a's lead and try selections from the SoCa vines or Paso Robles, the epicenter of the Central Coast wine boom. Due to the terrain and micro-claims, the Paso Robles appellation boasts the third-highest number of wineries in the U.S. The father of California wine was Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra, who planted the first vineyard in 1769. Wine and religion. There's a potent brew.

For its first effort, color and aroma offers a pleasant color and bouquet; it just needs a little time to age. Future issues will cover wines of other countries, though its feet are planted firmly in the rich soil of its home state. In fact, Beeson is so sure of success, he believes readers will "carry this magazine into the next century." NBC chief Jeff Zucker only promised his network would still be here in 10 years! Maybe the Zuckman needs a weekend in Paso Robles.

And if my candidate doesn't win this fall, I may join him. Plan B: I'm ordering a case of 1997 Isosceles. Apologies to John Steinbeck, but it will serve as my very own grapes of wrath.


Published by: OC Grapevine, Inc.
Frequency: Bimonthly
Web site

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