The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Calling All Wine Ninjas

As the name of this blog kinda sorta implies/hints at, I like wine. A little.  After formal training, thousands of bottles consumed, and reading a bunch of books on it, I can easily say I know more about wine than the average person.  But every once in a while there’s something that comes up that completely throws me for a loop.  This is one of those times.  I’ll get to that later…

Any expert in any field – like thoracic surgery or javelin catching – will tell you the key to success is to know your limitations.  In this case I’m sure I could figure it out, but I’m extremely limited by overwhelming laziness.   So I’m going to toss this wine question out to my fellow wine geeks out there.  These are other wine bloggers and experts that I like to read and I’m sure one of them can help me out here.  A few of these bloggers have weekly quizzes and I’m pissed I didn’t think of that.  Some are as schizo multi-faceted as I am and blog about other things like music, travel, and cycling.  But all of them love their wine and I’ve learned a lot by reading their blogs.

I think I’ll call them “The Hedonist’s Panel of Wine Ninjas.”

Here are links to their sites.  Go visit them:

In the Bodega

The Winegetter

My Love Affair With The Vine

The Drunken Cyclist

Talk a Vino

Whine and Cheers for Wine

Tasteful Tannins

Jorge from Produce Station

Eyes Wine Open

Wine Splash


Zinfandel Chronicles

1 Wine Dude

OK, so here’s where I humbly apologize for any omissions.  If you consider yourself a  wine geek and want to be one of the Ninjas, just let me know!  Any of the current Wine Ninjas can tell you it’s a pretty easy gig with zero time commitment at all.  Which I’m sure they’re happy to know considering this is the first that any of them has heard of  the panel.

Without further ado, here’s the question  –

WTF is in my wine?

We were enjoying some beautiful skirt steaks with The Sicilian and hubby and I dug deep into the wine cellar to pull out this one –

2002 Peter Paul Wines, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This is drinking really well now and will be good for another five years.  Rich, deep, violet color with aromas of berries, cedar, and chocolate on the nose.   It wasn’t overly fruity (which I like) and not quite full-bodied, but the rich mouthfeel was in perfect balance with the mellow tannins.

But it’s not all that goodness that’s got me perplexed.  What’s got me scratching my head is that, when I finished my first glass, this was in the bottom of it –

It was about three to four inches long and looked to be a part of a plant.  The little things at the end of each stem look like it was where there was fruit attached.   We’ve all seen grapes, right?  They grow close together in tight clusters.  This doesn’t look like a grape stem.  I’ve had a couple bottles of the same wine but never saw anything like this and I doubt there will be one in the other two I have.  Of course, I could just cook some more steaks and find out.

So I ask you, whether you’re a Wine Ninja or not, WTF is that?

Hey – I don’t post wine reviews here as much as I should, but I’ve been known to do a couple on Facebook.  Along with random meals and other oddities.  Follow me there!

About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

21 comments on “Calling All Wine Ninjas

  1. whineandcheersforwine
    September 20, 2012

    First off: Thank you for the Wine Ninja title! It is much appreciated specially coming from you. Now on to your question. I’ll have to agree with your WTF first reaction. I love unfiltered wines but have never come across an actual intact twig [?] while imbibing. Usually my findings are of the pulp variety. I am still leaning towards a grape variety but it will be intresting to see some of the other comments. Also, you may want to reach out to the vineyard/winemaker they can be quite helpful at times 🙂

  2. Yinzerella
    September 20, 2012

    This would be my reaction to finding that in my wine:

  3. Socialkenny
    September 20, 2012

    Well I’m no vino ninja, b ut I do enjoy a glass of wine at least once a week (vino tinto to be exact).

  4. the winegetter
    September 20, 2012

    There you had me confused, then flattered, then laughing, and then stunned…all in one post!

    I will gladly accept the induction into the Wine Ninjas! I will post my acceptance speech at another point…;)

    To your twig. I have never in my life seen this happen. While the top parts could have carried grapes (they look similar enough) I disagree with whine and cheers (but I am unwilling to draw my 忍者刀, ninjato over it), and do not think it is a grape stem. This would be the weirdest part of a grape cluster ever. The grapes would have been way too far out on this varietal. Given that it is a California cab sav, it is even more unlikely. I could imagine some crazy Italien or Greek varietal that exists only in a village somewhere in the middle of nowhere and looks like this. But not in California. It looks more like a weed or long grass to me, something that grows between vines.

    Clearly, the wine was unfiltered, a method I am not very familiar with. I just assume that some way or other, this got into the grapes and was not caught…very strange. Also interesting that it did not alter the wine’s taste! I am really puzzled, but given the size of barrels and the machine part in filling the bottles, I guess it can rather easily happen with unfiltered wines.

    I also would contact the winemaker.

  5. sephage01
    September 20, 2012

    Hey there – appreciate you pinging me on twitter! Kinda bummed that I’m not a listed Wine Ninja member, that would be some pretty awesome shiz to print on my business card! 😉

    You need to contact the producer and let them know that you got some MOG in your wine. MOG is short for “material other than grapes” and my guess is that you got some local flora that was missed on the sorting table and somehow got into the wine. IN any case, they should at minimum be giving you a replacement bottle. Let us know what happens!

    • the drunken cyclist
      September 20, 2012

      sephage01, that looks a lot like the ‘Dude’ in your gravatar…

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 20, 2012

      What’s your Twitter handle? I think I got you in now, but hate to skip one, lest you sneak up on me with some corkscrew shaped ninja stars…

  6. the drunken cyclist
    September 20, 2012

    So I contacted one of my wine maker peeps and here is what he said:

    “No clue what it is, it’s not from grapes, but it doesn’t make sense that it was in there in the first place. It would have to make it through the filler spout or fall into the bottle before bottling. Very strange.”

    I agree with sephage1winedudelookalike: contact the producer. If they are small and give a crap, they will at least send you a freebie….

    And thanks for including me as a ninja as well. My sons will think I’m cool….

  7. musingsoftheamusingmuse
    September 20, 2012

    It looks to me like the stems of cherries.

  8. PlayingDorothy
    September 20, 2012

    Love being called a Ninja!! Thank you!! I have to agree with musingsoftheamusingmuse…looks like a cherry stem to me…what is left of the stamen on each branch looks as though it should have had some fruit on it, and cherries def. grow in those types of clusters…Tweeted your post so maybe so one from there will have an idea. Thanks again…I must go and save the world now (read – pick up kid from school).

  9. winesplash
    September 20, 2012

    Yes, thanks for the Wine Ninja reference! I can’t say I am a black belt in wine but probably more like a green belt or even a garnet red just to keep in the wine mindset. I feel I should know a cool trick with my corkscrew like to boomerang it across the room, uncork a bottle of wine, and have it return to me. LoL!

    Well your unfiltered wine really has everyone talking. I will have to agree with the WineGetter. I feel some wildberry, flower, or stemmed plant grew between the grape vines and was picked along with the grapes by a grape harvesting machine. And all was dropped into the vat and barrel and ended up in your bottle. I know, you can’t win the lottery but weird stuff like this happens to You and only You! The good thing is you are still alive and maybe you can write a book about it. Maybe you have some secret power now that you haven’t discovered yet since you have drank the contents of that bottle! I suggest to check the mirror frequently at the next full moon! Ninja Wine Splash out!

  10. Cheryl
    September 21, 2012

    I’m honored to be inducted to your panel. Now I can add Wine Ninja to my list of accomplishments – maybe I’ll even add it to my business card!

    My first thought on the MOG was also a cherry stem but on closer look I see small bumps along the stem traveling toward where the fruit or flower would be. So, I’m seriously stumped…..Be sure to keep us posted on your findings and Ninja On!!

  11. Pingback: Urraca – Chardonnay – 2009 – Argentina « In The Bodega

  12. talkavino
    September 23, 2012

    wow, I’m bummed by not seeing this post before. Thank you very much for including me into the Ninja circle – now we probably need to develop some secret Wine Ninja handshake so we can acknowledge each other in the appropriate way 🙂

    As to your finding, I’m not sure about MOG, I think it is pure WTF (as you identified this) and I would definitely contact the winemaker at least to find out what they think about it…

  13. Jane
    October 15, 2012

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing
    all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

  14. jimvanbergen
    October 28, 2012

    Enjoying your blog! Please have a look at my blog, JvB Uncorked and let me know if you consider me worthy of the title if Wine Ninja… I sure do!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      October 28, 2012

      You’re IN! Nice site, am following. So the question is – what do you think was that thing I found in the bottle?

  15. jimvanbergen
    October 28, 2012

    Whoops- that’s totally vine. I’m surprised it didn’t get pulled by the machine that does sorting (or the secondary straining that happens after pressing!)
    You should drop a note to Peter Paul Vineyards and show them the picture, so they know that it was a “fail” on their behalf. Given that it was a 2002 they may be using different methods and machines, but I’d share it with them.

    Hope you enjoy JvB Uncorked, Good to meet you and share more blogness with fellow Oenephiles!

  16. Pingback: Laurentide Wine Tasting at The Last Word « The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on September 20, 2012 by in Ann Arbor, Drinking and tagged , , , , , , , .
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