IN CRAIG Goldwyn's betting parlance, the vintages are the horses and the vintage chart is the racing form. Goldwyn has designed and published his own chart, the 1981 Current Drinkability Chart, on which he gives the additional good advice that there is no substitute for knowing a good handicapper, a.k.a. a knowledgeable merchant, if you want a hot tip.
Craig Goldwyn is a nationally respected wine educator, critic and writer. In his somewhat novel approach to vintage charts, he has taken the standard factors of weather and regional variations into consideration, then added that of the handling by middlemen, before making his evaluation of the short- and long-term potential of the wines of major European and American regions.
The pocket-size chart costs $1, to cover post and handling, and a sepia-colored poster is available for $5, both from Wine Stains, 1981 Chart, 227 Enfield Falls Rd., Ithaca, N.Y. 14850.
Interstate rivalry has found an outlet. The Pacific states are going to have a crack at each other at the First Western Wine Competition, to be held in Boise, Idaho, on May 2 and 3. Part of the four-day food and wine festival, the Western Wine Competition is open to wines from Washington, Idaho, Oregon and, of course, California. Categories are being limited to the four superior varietals: cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, chardonnay and johannisberg riesling.
The non-Californians are spoiling for the fight. They're confident that they will show the rest of us that there's more to the West than California.
To form your own opinion, some recommended wines on our retail shelves come from Oregon's Knudsen Erath and Sokol-Blosser, Ste. Chapelle of Idaho and Washington's Chateau Ste. Michelle.
The growers and producers of Monterey County, south of San Francisco, are among the more organized of the California wine groups. Their Winegrowers Council undertakes an annual taste-and-talk roadshow to promote the wines of its members. It comes our way every second year or so, and was in town in early April.
Wines from 10 of the 21 members were presented by the owners, winemakers or other winery staff. At the Washington tasting, the reds showed better than the whites. Almaden's '78 Cabernet Sauvignon is a good buy, at $5. an uncomplicated, reasonably ready-to-drink dinner wine.Durney's '78 Cabernet Sauvignon, $12, from Carmel Valley, has a deep, youthful color and pepperiness of taste that will mature well in five years or more.
More from California: The Wine Institute is promoting a free handbook for beginners and more advanced students of wine. For a copy of the "Wine Information Course," write to the Wine Institute at 165 Post St., San Francisco, Calif. 94108.
An early release on the 1981 Heublein Auction: The venue will be the Royal Sonesta Hotel, New Orleans, and the date is May 28. Preview tastings will be held in Los Angeles on May 13, Boston on May 21 and in New Orleans on May 27. This year's auction commemorates the 250th anniversary of the Burgundy house of Bouchard Pere et. Fils. Four Bouchard wines of the legendary 1865 vintage will be on offer. They are part of a collection of burgundies that ranges from 1864 to 1978, including prephylloxera whites.
The five-drink order is repeated.
Then: "Ready, set, go."
Facing 150 people, the bartender, hands shaking slightly, rapidly sloshes liquor into five glasses from bottles that he rips two at a time from their slots under the bar.
It was the first annual Washington Fastest Bartender Competition, held recently at Winston's in Georgetown, drawing 45 contestants from 34 bars in the hope of fame and an all-expense-paid (plus $250 cash) trip to Atlantic City. Competition was brutal.
The winner: Ray Sullivan, formerly from Wall Street in Alexandria.