For a long time, the problem with wine has not been pairing it with food, but rather with words. At Château Petrogasm, we evaluate and describe wine by departing from the traditional methods of review. In doing so, we hope to provide a valuable tool for wine drinkers by using colors, sketches, photography, and other visual media in order to convey both the intrinsic components of a particular wine along with a general impression of it. Wine is art; drinking it should be too!
How the Chateau was constructed . . .
“In mocking servitude, we salute you, Château Pétrus! Henceforth, we shall only drink you, Château Pétrus!”
Thus began (alongside jokes of roaring lions and meager misers) the rise of a new Château, a Château with ten times the greatness of Pétrus, a Château where wine can smell of wet-dog and pencil shavings or resurrect the memory of a statue in a father’s carefully-tended garden. Our goal is to relax the standards of reviewing wine and balance pragmatism with fun so that more people can enjoy the pleasures of drinking and sharing the experience.
1. Ludwig Wittgenstein once asked, “What is the meaning of a word?” He responded, “Let us attack this question by asking, first, what is an explanation of the meaning of a word; what does the explanation of a word look like?” (The Blue Book, p. 1). When attempting to describe wine, one encounters this very problem. First, how does the wine look? Is it accurate and effective to say that the wine possesses a color that resembles that of a rusted nail? Or, should we simply reproduce the color (which, of course, varies depending on the light of the room in which the wine was consumed)? No matter how hard we try to reproduce a wine (whether by words or art), we will always fall short. Hence, nothing can stand in place for a particular sip of wine, not even the second sip. This is precisely what makes traditional wine reviews bankrupt and, at the same time, makes wine so pleasurable!
You might find yourself wondering, “if wine is a form of art, then reviewing a particular wine is like reviewing a painting. It would therefore be dubious to submit a painting as the review of another painting.” However, it would be just as dubious to describe in great detail each component of the painting, as we often do with wine. (“A man with blue pants and a loose white shirt stands on a beach, which from what I can tell contains grains of sand in the following colors: . . . .”) Since the enjoyment of wine is clearly a subjective experience, it cannot be described by words alone. Using abstract art to convey both the experience of drinking and the impression of a wine, we can move beyond the limits of words. And, if a wine smells overbearingly like honeydew, then we must trust that honeydew will stain one’s imagination and thus the image.
We hope that you find our work useful. More importantly, we hope that you enjoy it!
2. Upon receiving notice that, in only one week since its founding, Château Petrogasm has been visited by both a viewer from Jonkoping, Sweden and a viewer from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we realized that we provide a new, international medium for wine review. By using images, we are able to break down hegemonic language barriers. The only important words that are used in our reviews are the words on the label of the wine bottle, which remains in the language of the country where the wine was made. So, essentially, anyone can use and enjoy our reviews. Thanks for your support Sweden and Brazil!!!
The Residents of the Château
BAS – Benjamin A. Saltzman – Founder
BAS is not a mathematical genius. He is, however, a bona fide wine lover. He also comes from a family of artists. His grandfather was a painter and sculptor; his aunt, a chef; his other aunt, a color-specialist; his father, a musician and music editor for film and television; and his mother, an artist in many respects. These two factors make him especially qualified to be a resident of the Château.
Like many of the other residents, BAS is a native Southern Californian (though he was born in Newton, Massachusetts and lived there for just under a year and now resides in Sausalito, California). He received his BA in English literature and medieval studies at Pace University in New York City. While in NYC he developed an affinity for the study of Anglo-Saxon England. After graduating, he worked several years in the Los Angeles wine industry, which allowed him to come closer to mead than most living humans. He is currently working towards his PhD in medieval English literature at the University of California, Berkeley.
AMS – Andrew Stuart – Founder
AMS is a 27 Year old Southern California native who makes his living in the Wine and Spirits industry and who now lives in Washington, DC. As an art school dropout with insatiable thirst for libations, you might say he was destined to mix the two one day. As co-founder of the Chateau, Andrew hopes to introduce a new style of all review to the world, who knows, perhaps one day Roger Ebert will hold up a Picasso to describe the latest Spielberg film!
JJH – Original Resident – Sommelier and Cordon Bleu trained chef.
TSS – Original Resident – TSS is a man of vast resource and impeccable taste.
JSK – Original Resident – Winemaker and sommelier.
Become a Resident
If you would like to contribute your own reviews and are interested in becoming a Resident of the Château, please visit the “Participate” page for more information.