It’ll probably come as no surprise that I’m a little bit of a dork about wine. Whenever I add to our collection, I put a colored paper collar around each new bottle with my tasting notes, some foods I think it would pair well with, and the year(s) it should be consumed. The paper colors correspond to different trips I’ve taken or tastings I’ve attended, so I can get a quick visual when looking at a wine rack on what lies where. If I see purple, for instance, I know that those wines are from the trip to Santa Ynez I took in 2013; green means Greek wines I tasted last summer.
Much too infrequently, I take stock of the racks in our basement that we hyperbolically refer to as our wine cellar. Each time I do this, I inevitably get agitated at the bottles that are aging past their prime because we have neglected or forgotten about them. Several years back, I tried to combat our carelessness/oblivion with a new racking convention: ready-to-drink bottles on the top rows, stuff that could stand more age down below. And it works…occasionally. But then I’ll go on a trip or go to a tasting and bring home a mess of wine that I am too lazy to rack properly, which kind of renders the whole racking convention moot.
In my shame, I’ll try to foist some of the blame off on The Unit. Conversations too often go like this:
Me: We need to start drinking some of these nice bottles we’ve got.
Unit: Great. Let’s do it. Let’s open one tonight.
Me: No, not tonight. I’m not cooking anything worthy of a nice bottle.
Unit: Well, you can’t have it both ways, you know. You can’t want to drink them and then not want to drink them.
Me: WHAT IS YOUR POINT???
As I’ve pointed out before: I’m not real fun to live with.
And speaking of points, here’s mine: once a week I heretofore pledge to go shopping in my cellar for a lovely bottle of peaking wine and build a meal around it. Dare I admit that this prospect scares me? I have dual fears: (1) that the contents of the bottle will bear no relationship whatsoever to the pronouncement I engraved on the little slip of colored paper, and (2) that I will cook a completely unworthy meal thereby insulting the wine. Of course, now that I see those fears in print, I realize they’re both kind of silly. Because, (1) who’s going to care, really, that I got the descriptors wrong, and (2) who’s going to care, really, about the food if the wine is fantastic?*
*Hint: the answer to both of these questions is only me.
Our first experiments involved a lovely bottle of Gewurztraminer, a 2011 Odinstal from the Pfalz, which went very well with an oyster po boy and only OK with a slow cooked salmon over Anson Mills grits (but, damn, were those grits amazing). We first had this wine on New Year’s Eve at birch and it was the sip of the night.
Next up, a bottle of 2014 Domaine Skouras Moscofilero from the Peloponnese. I first had this wine at a Greek wine dinner last summer, organized by sommeliers Ian Magiros and Maria Dolos at Nick’s on Broadway. I bought a lot of bottles that night, and thus far none have disappointed.
My tasting notes read: Pre-phylloxera vines. Palate: ↑ acidiy, salinity, citrus. → minerality. Nose: Stonefruit, white flowers, lemons. I want to eat sesame seeds with this. Drink NOW!
I am a little annoyed that I didn’t give myself any greater direction than “sesame seeds,” but since I was so adamant on it I figured I should definitely follow that culinary path.
In the glass, this wine delivered on all fronts. It was zippy and alive. It smelled a little like baby’s breath, wet rocks, under-ripe peaches, and lemon peel, and tasted remarkably similar. I got lemon and lime pith on the palate, although the Unit argued that it was the fruit, not the pith. Leave it to me to seek the bitterness, right?
Here’s what we ate:
The final verdict: B+. The food, although quite delicious in and of itself, was certainly not the best match for this wonderful wine. In retrospect, I should have gone with a hearty seafood, like grilled squid. I think a garlicky skordalia sauce on potatoes would have done well, too. I will chalk it up to experience and indulge some hand-rubbing that I now have an empty spot in the cellar to fill with a new and exciting bottle.
Signing off with a
slightly very cheesy Olivia Newton-John track from the really horribly movie Xanadu. So good, though!