Who is TORB?
This site is now closed
and has been left here
for historical reference
Copyright © Ric Einstein 2009
By Bert Werden
On his birth certificate, TORB is really Ric Einstein, a 55 year old whom occasionally during business hours, can be found managing Animal Magnetism, his pet store in Mittagong, NSW. He openly admits his staff doesn’t like him interfering in the business that they run for him, so that leaves him plenty of time to pursue his vinous obsession. In my quest of uncorking the legend that is The Opinionated Red Bigot, I went on a fact-finding mission. The question on most people’s lips is the origin of the TORB moniker.
“Years ago, on the Auswine Forum a contributor called a friend of mine a red bigot, so he responded on his next post by calling himself Red Bigot. As I have just as an ‘opaque view’ towards wine, my next post was written under the name ‘The Other Red Bigot’ which now many people have shortened to TORB.”
That good friend was Brian Handreck, and whilst the concept of using nicknames was certainly not a new one, particularly on website forums, I believe one can learn a lot about a person through his or her nickname, and if the name is self proclaimed then you better believe it if these guys call themselves Red Wine Bigots. Anyone still left in any doubt over Ric’s preferred tipple should cast an eye over his cellar. “Basically almost all Australian reds and a few bottles of (French) Champagne and some Botrytis being the only c-throughs allowed. “About 60% is Shiraz, about 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance blends. No straight Merlot, Pinot and very little Grenache, although there are some very good blends of these varieties there.
Being a lover of ‘stickies’ with desert or a cheese platter, there are lots of good Ports, Muscats and Tokays too. When you include the odd bottles of good quality Malt Whisky, Cognac or Armagnac, the cellar is by Ric’s own admission, chockers, with almost 2,200 bottles. A collection of this type and size can take forever to compile. For many the love affair with wine does not occur until later on in life, not so our Ric. ”Right from an early age our family used to drink wine with dinner about once a week and on special occasions. By the time I was in my mid teens I really enjoyed it.”
In a life filled with good wine experiences, I asked Ric to give me the best. “Gee that’s like asking me who was the best girl I have ever been out with? There have been a few great ones (both categories) so it’s almost impossible to choose a best wine experience.”
At this point I get the impression that just maybe there are so few negatives with this mans’ love affair with wine and the industry that he is not afraid to get stuck into. First and foremost, he would prefer to go without, rather than drink rubbish. On his worst experiences, Ric highlights “going to friend’s houses where they pull out a special bottle ‘just for you’ because they know you love wine. It turns out to be unadulterated crap that should have come out of a cardboard box; but you have to be polite and make positive ‘ooing’ and ‘arring’ noises instead of spitting it out.” Whilst I had initially thought Ric had his tongue firmly in his cheek making that comment, he was deadly serious proving he doesn’t mince his words.
“In terms of pet hates in wine, the answer is simple; pulling out a bottle of wine that has been cellared for years to find it’s a “dud ” causes by either cork taint or bad wine making. Some where between 4 - 10% of the wine sold in Australia today is faulty, depending on whom you believe. There is not another single industry that could get away with this sort of defect rating, and the industry as a whole needs to improve this situation, and quickly. In terms of pet hates in the industry, the companies both big and small that don’t care about their customers. For example, not replacing corked bottles, not answering letter, faxes emails etc.
I was intrigued to find out how this man maximises his enjoyment of wine. The common denominator for his ‘perfect night’ either in or out comprised of very good friends, great food and great wine. “Some years ago I was in Auch, the capital of the Armagnac Region and had dinner at a ** rated Michelin Restaurant. For starters I had Pate Foie Gras cooked 5 different ways, one including Lobster. The desert comprised a plate of eight different chocolate treats. The meal was finished off with a glass of XO Armagnac from my birth year. I would like to repeat the experience with five friends, and this time have the wines match the food properly. Even if that required more c-through than I would normally drink.”
Okay, so he began drinking wine at a young age, but for all of us there is fundamental influence in our love of the great drop. For Ric it was his eldest sister Jaki, whom he speaks of with great pride. “When I was in my late teens Jaki worked part time for Len Evans. Amongst other things, she wrote the ‘History of Wine in Australia’ for Len.” Jaki also helped edit the “Len Evans Complete Book of Australian Wine. “She was very passionate about wine in those days and her enthusiasm rubbed of on me. She is responsible for creating an obsessed vinous monster, but what are sister for!”
With his writings on the various forums and on TORBWine, many readers have remarked that Ric remains a crusader for wine drinkers rights. In his own words, Ric said, “I am a person with strong opinions, who is not afraid to stick his head above the parapet and say a few words, even if that means I sometimes get my head blown off."
So is there any chance we may see Ric bob up within the industry? "I don't want to work in the industry, but one should never say never. I enjoy having my own business and being my own boss, I don’t know if that would be achievable if I worked in the wine industry. If I did ever work in the industry, nothing but nothing would compromise my views or opinions and that would make it very difficult."
At this point the TORB picture is abundantly clear. This guy has no hang ups, only a passion of wine and “calling it as it is”. I have reserved the final word for TORB “Enjoy ever day as it comes, and enjoy ever bottle of wine you drink, you never know when it will be your last. TRY and treat people the way you would like them to treat you.” Hear Hear.