Thursday, September 9, 2010


(Guess who learned a new term today?)

Okay, seriously? The timing of this one is just plain creepy. Was I not, just last week, calling an end to Beer Book 1 and trumpeting a return to wine? Then it got a little busy and I hadn't yet taken on the task, and then this article shows up today in the Times like it was both reading my mind and getting the jump on my good intentions. But I swear, I thought all of this first.

Somewhere early summer I just felt too stupid and gave up on wine. More accurately, I got mad at wine. Completely reasonable, I know; I mean who hasn't, right? For a few reasons I got mad at wine and decided I was done with it.

1. Wine is way too complicated for my demeanor. I confess, I don't care about all the stuff. I mean I do, it's interesting and intriguing and all of it, I enjoy hearing or reading about any of it, but there's just way too much of it for me to get ahead of at this point in my career. I don't care about nothing, I just have minimal and limited brain capacity already dedicated to other interests. Some people are obsessed with wine while otherwise appreciating books, movies, art, sports; I happen to be obsessed with other things while otherwise appreciating movies, music, wine. Like that.

2. Let's just say 'troglodyte' is not the most prosperous endeavor on earth and leave it at that. I suspect there are a few other less than prosperous endeavors on earth, quite a few, in fact. Now, suppose I want to enjoy a passable glass of wine with dinner. Like the night I made curried heirloom cherry tomatoes with a ton of garlic and some thyme and a bit of the wine on crostini with fontina cheese. Cries a glass of wine, doesn't it? So on a tip I tried this one from Trader Joes, around $6. Must say: not horrible.

Truth is, though, most of the cheaper wine from TJ's is undrinkable. Swill! Worse to drink than drinking no wine at all. Does this mean a troglodyte of my means isn't allowed to enjoy a passable glass of wine? The resentment set in.

I started wondering about my french economic counterparts. You know, we're told over here that the french drink wine like we do water, more or less, so what is my french compadre having with dinner? What is the price-point and is it as awful as what I get here?

3. So I'm feeling a little ousted by, you know, "the man," casually catching up on Nick's blog over there at Bordeaux Undiscovered one quiet weekend, when I read this one about Bordeaux's plans to upgrade its image by replacing any 'basic' wine vines with higher end stuff. Like the 2009 extravaganza just wasn't enough, I guess. Must-have-more. So now I'm really feeling a little bit like, you know, here we go, the whole bourgeoisie and proletariat thing again. And then I decided to forget wine. I decided if wine was going to be that way about it I would just take all my toys and go home.

It was kind of funny.

It was the whole beer break that got me back into re-thinking wine. The beer was amazing, I mean really amazing tastes I'd never thought possible minus any pretense whatsoever. I was really enjoying the celebration of taste. It reinvigorated me, gave me hope, re-calibrated my mindset, that maybe it was my premise that was mistaken; maybe I was just imposing my own frustration onto the bigger picture.

Then this article showed up today in the Times, the word "plonk" along with it, and the affirmation that what I'd suspected all along was true, that it is indeed not an easy task to get a drinkable and also affordable bottle wine in California, but I'm beyond sweating it anymore. It's not about the wine anymore, it's the idea of flavor experience and that is something more varied now; sometimes it comes your way in wine, sometimes olive oil, sometimes beer. Sometimes curried tomatoes - they were amazing. Have I mentioned yet that I've been storing slices of watermelon wrapped in red basil in the fridge overnight, and the subtle infusion is just to die? Lessons learned along the way: priceless.