30 Second Wine Advisor A harvest report from Chateau Palmer

After a close call from inclement weather, harvest has begun at Chateau Palmer. For a daily report by winemaker Philippe Delfaut go to http://chateau-palmer.com/Harvest2002.

30 Second Wine Advisor: This week's sponsors

Chateau Palmer:
California Wine Club:
One day left in the WINE SALE!


In This Issue

A harvest report from Chateau Palmer
What is an oenophile?
Ca' del Solo 2000 California Big House Red
Wine Lovers' Voting Booth: What's your wine value favorite?
California Wine Club: One day left in the WINE SALE!
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

What is an oenophile?

To paraphrase the old joke about engineers, "Not long ago, you didn't even know what an 'oenophile' was, and now you might be one."

Perhaps surprisingly, one of our most frequently asked wine questions is, "What's the fancy word for 'wine lover'?" Prompted by a recent topic in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, today seems like a good opportunity to take a look at this somewhat obscure and rather formal term.

"Oenophile," pronounced "ee-no-file," comes from the ancient Greek, as do many similar words for enthusiasts and hobbyists, from "bibliophile" (book lover) to "logophile" (word lover) and hundreds more.

Its derivation is simple: "Oeno" from "oenos," the Greek word for "wine," with the standard "-phile" (one who loves) tacked on. A long list of related "oeno-" words extends from the fairly common "oenology" (the study of wine) to a truly obscure set passed along by a scholarly friend from the Oxford English Dictionary, including such oddities as "oenomania" (an intense craving for wine), "oenomancy" (divination or fortune-telling by means of wine), and even "oenophobist," one who has a dread of or aversion to wine. I am not kidding about this.

Finally, several or our participants observed that the rather archaic-seeming "Oe-" at the beginning of these wine words is gradually shifting to just-plain "E," shortening "Oenophile" to "Enophile." This evolution appears to be more commonplace in the United States (where even the prestigious Department of Viticulture and Enology of the University of California at Davis has shed the leading "O") than in Britain, where most wine lovers stick conservatively with the older form.

Are you an oenophile? An enophile? Personally, I find the term just a bit too pompous and formal, best reserved for those rare occasions when black tie and tux are called for. The plain-English "wine lover" suits me fine, or as the French would have it in literally the same words, "amateur de vin."

If you would like to read or join in the Wine Lovers' Discussion Group's online conversation on this topic, you're invited to click to the topic "What's the right spelling of oenophile?" at

Big House Red Ca' del Solo 2000 California Big House Red ($9.39)

A casual observer might catch the small print at the top of the label and assume this wine is from Italy, but the familiar Italian legalese contains a small but significant variation: "DOONominazione di Origine Controllata" reflects the wacky work of Randall Grahm, the offbeat proprietor of California's Bonny Doon winery. Ca' del Solo is Bonny Doon's label for Italian-style wines. This one is very dark garnet in color, with attractive scents of spicy black plums and aromatic vanilla. Ripe and full in flavor, black fruit and spice over crisp but not stinging acidity. (Sept. 28, 2002)

FOOD MATCH: Made for red meat or Italian-style tomato-sauce dishes, but worked well with a meatless eggplant pilaf.

VALUE: Not the most complex wine on the shelf, but easy quaffability and food-friendly style make it a good value for less than $10.

WEB LINK: Bonny Doon's Website is
The winery's fact sheet on 2001 Big House Red, which is now moving into distribution with a metal screwcap in place of the synthetic cork used on this 2000, is at

Wine Lovers' Voting Booth: What's your wine value favorite?

In an effort to create a worldwide shopping list for the bargain-seeking wine lover, we have suggsted 20 widely available wines from around the world that offer unusual quality for a relatively low price. You're welcome to choose one of these as your pick of the week in the Wine Lovers' Voting Booth ... or, as more than 150 wine lovers have already done, select "other" to name your own wine-bargain favorite.

To check the list as it grows - and of course, to add your own favorite - simply click to the Voting Booth at

California Wine Club: One day left in the WINE SALE!

This is your last chance to save with The California Wine Club's September-Fest Wine Sale! Choose from a selection of California's finest "boutique" bottlings. With everyday drinking wines as low as $5.50, and Library Reserve selections at up to 52 percent off normal retail, you're sure to find something to tempt your palate. Each of the wines featured in The California Wine Club is hand-selected by the Club's owners, Bruce and Pam Boring. The quality, selection and service is unbeatable!

to check out the September-Fest Wine Sale, or call (800) 777-4443.

The sale ends at close of business today (Monday, Sept. 30, 2002), so don't wait!

Available in the U.S. wherever wine shipping is permitted by law.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is currently distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays. Here's the index to last week's columns:

More bargain-hunting (Sept. 27)

Wine by the glass (Sept. 25

Can wine be cheap and good? (Sept. 23)

Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Giving shrimp a boost (Sept. 26)

Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:


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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Monday, Sept. 30, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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