And all this time, you thought the term “wine thief” referred to you yourself, caught red-handed with that airplane bottle of Sneaky Pete down your pants. Silly girl. Fact is, a wine thief is a pipette used to extract wine for testing. Seems to me a turkey baster would serve the same purpose, but you know how persnickety these oenophiles are. They think a twist-off bottlecap is an assault on sacred viticulture tradition, sort of like a fine antique grandfather clock fitted with a digital face. Yikes!
Be that as it may, winemaking is winemaking is winemaking—and while some time-honored techniques and growing regions are obviously lots better than others, the newer stuff has its heart squarely in the right place. Take the 2006 Shiraz from the oddly named 2 Up company, sourced from South Australia's McLaren Vale and topped with a screw-cap to boot. No pretensions here, no concessions to the depths of history—just a good, old-fashioned darkish flavor not unlike the super-expensive stuff you're used to. Oak, plums and chocolate come through in mighty style here, making this entry an ideal companion for a lighter meat like lamb. On a friend's recommendation, I made the mistake of pairing it with a heavy pork shoulder. I'm not speaking to her anymore, unless the wine police permit me to address her after the trial.
Incidentally, 2 up is a traditional Australian coin-toss game where players gamble on whether both pennies will land on their heads or tails. Simple and to the point, just like this wine, which you can find at BevMo and a bunch of other places for around $10. That's equal to a thousand pennies, enough for 500 games at once. Just be careful that none of the coins lands in your glass. Wine and copper is a terrible pairing, tradition or no.