A few months ago I decided to let my subscriptions to magazines that have too many words in them (Harper's, The Atlantic) lapse, and to replace them with magazines with more pictures in them. (Hey. I'm busy.) Some credit card offered me several $2-per-year magazine subscriptions as a thank you for taking three years to pay off my bill, so I signed up for Harper's Bazaar, Esquire, and Wine Spectator. The writing in Bazaar is pretty much unreadable, or maybe I should blame it on the editing, since articles by Jay McInerney, Francine Prose, and someone wild about handbags all sounded as though they were written by the same recent college graduate. Esquire is decent browsing material, and sometimes you get a new story by David Sedaris. Wine Spectator, however, I ordered under the mistaken assumption that it was Robert Parker's wine thing -- you know, The Wine Advocate. (Robert Parker's the guy with the supernatural ability to detect a hint of gasoline in your pinot noir, and the ungodly influence to thus bankrupt your winery even though you supplied every king of France since Charlemagne.) The unnerving thing about reading wine reviews -- and I'm someone who is hard pressed to spend more than $8 on a bottle of wine, so I'm basically wasting my time by reading them, not to mention $2 -- is the vocabulary. They tell me that a certain $30 Chateauneuf-du-Pape has "a malic, yogurt, milky character," "lemon and pear notes," and a "slightly flabby finish." Yogurty wine, okay (I have no idea what malic means, unless it's meant to be a sort of sneaky metareference to filmmaker Terence Malick's engrossing, hallucinatory style). Lemons and pears being able to strike "notes" strikes me as charmingly musical ("Strange Fruit" in the key of pear sharp -- ready, boys?). But the idea of flabby wine makes me shudder in horror, as I can't stop myself from imagining a glass of wobbly, gelatinous, milky, lard-infused wine heading for my mouth and I can't stop my arm because of the hallucinatory effect of all the previous malic bottles I've unwittingly consumed because I've been reading the wrong wine reviewer. *Uh-hh-hn-ngh* (My best attempt at a transcription of how Homer Simpson might shudder after having glimpsed Mr. Burns's malic, lemon-scented, flabby white butt.)