No. 1, et al.

p1787Introducing the wine padnah series:  Tahdah! The term “pairing” is simply for the birds, in my humble opinion.  Therefore, if you are feeling too stuffy for this nouveau non-riche corner of Winebbler, then please excuse yourself to go blow your nose!

This is an experiment for those of us who have yet to know the glory of drinking savvy glasses of vino with a high society-approved bite. The rubber is hitting the road, kids. We can no longer be those guys downing our glasses o’ chardonnay with a slab of steak. Oh, the humanity of such mistakes! The horror! the teroirr! (Wine Notes: By the way, teroirr is a so-called loaner-word from the Frenchies about the dirt that grapes grow in. We’ll get there. For now, just enjoy the shameless wordplay and laugh knowingly under your breath.)

But, I digress. Here are a few suggestions for your investigation of bottle No. 1–garnered from one am Google searches, Food&Wine, and my own (laughably non-existent) expert meanderings .

I think they will prove to be decent catches, particularly when all you want to do is throw your work-bag on the floor and hike up those sweatpants from high school over your belly button.

Cheese.
Typically, with a Malbec or any bold red (or in our case, a blend) your best bet will be to stick with a hard cheese. The term “hard cheese”  literally means what I am writing. The shit is not squishy. Back away from your go-to Brie. You can do it, I promise.

A solid (and relatively inexpensive) recommendation would be a Manchego cheese. Manchego cheese is made from the milk of a rare-breed of Manchees. Just kidding. It does actually come from some pretty bad ass sheep, however. These mountain climbers live high up on the La Mancha region plateau in Spain and may or may not have palled around with Don Quixote (see painting included above in case you forgot what he looks like). Made out of 100% sheep’s milk, the nutty flavor of this cheese is delightful with our Malblot (the Merlot/Malbec blend).  No scandalous flag needed for this Spanish-French alliance, either.

Meat.
I’ll be honest. Unless you are showing off (and by that I mean hanging out with friends), spending a Friday evening without any intention of shamelessly stumbling home from a bar at some point, or you really don’t want to do anything but wait to eat—for, oh say, longer than it normally takes to heat up a lean cuisine– then, I’ve got nothing. But, wait! Generally speaking, darker wines are going to call for heavier meats. And after a little cost-benefit analysis, it is going to be well-worth the time investment. Try this amazing(ly easy) barbecue recipe so that you can be flashy with your wine padnah-ing skills. The recipe is really not difficult to master–so just sit there, eat your damn cheese, and wait it out!

Vegetable.
Bold reds are great pals with roasted vegetables. If you’re still an aspiring pseudo over-achiever (that is reaching for what is beyond the waves which are micro), try out these roasted potatoes with the No. 1 and barbeque. Patience is a virtue…that we can all occasionally muster.

Hope you enjoy, and let me know if you give it a go.

Bon Ap!

C.

xx.

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Winebbling with a Dilettante

glasses

This post is on how to be an asshole about the glass you’re drinking out of even when you don’t quite yet know how to be an asshole about what is in it. 

There must have been a moment where you were in that ever-so-awkward position at your rich friend’s house when they asked you to grab wine glasses down from their shelf–inadvertently forcing you to choose between a few varieties. Hence, exposing the fact that you have absolutely no idea what the hell you are doing. Yeah. I haven’t had that moment either. Most likely because my friends are still drinking wine out of game-day cups and stolen beer pints–much like myself on non-dishwashing days.

But, one day my fellow thirty-pressers–we will have it. And we need to know what to put that delectable under $20 wine in. At the very least, to prevent ourselves from being cast down as beastly commoners whilst in the presence of dignified wine deities (also secretly known by us mortals as the pompous assholes of wine finery).

So what gives about this wine glass stuff? Evidently, wine glasses weren’t always glass. The Romans drank out of clay, silver, and even (poisonous?) lead cups. Then, around 50 BC, ancient alcoholics had to be careful of splinters in their mouths, as their cups were made of wood.

Fast-forward a bit to the middle ages and they still hadn’t gotten to glass. Just these things called piggins, made out of leather. In fact, this cup is the namesake of the expression “pig-drunk.” Who would have ever thought that Thursday night sorority girl behavior actually derived from a bunch of rowdy Middle English trash talking heathens? Interesting.

Eventually–in the 14th century–Venetians started getting extra-fancy pants and decided to make some glasses. However, the shit was so expensive that basically no normal human could afford it! So regular old people stuck to their piggns, leather, and horns. Quite similar to the way we use coffee cups for wine when we run out of our six-pack of IKEA glasses today. See iPhone photo posted above.

At first, these wine glasses were really too heavy. Then, they were made to match furniture in the dining room around the 1800s. Some other shenanigans went on in wine glass evolution–up until Riedel started bullying the other glassmakers and forcefully creating an evil monopoly over the whole wine glass situation today. Not really. But they did (rightfully) take over.

By the way, Riedel is pronounced like the word “needle.” You’re welcome for saving your ass when you try to impress someone with this stuff later on. Anyway, Riedel is also an Austrian thing, even though it started in Bohemia around the mid-1700s.  And the fact that they are Austrian is not to be confused with their German-originated name. They get pissy about that–at least, I assume that they would.

Apparently, Riedel is also in cahoots with Robert Parker (remember him?) who said: “The finest glasses for both technical and hedonistic purposes are those made by Riedel. The effect of these glasses on fine wine is profound. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make.” Ah, how his beautiful pretensions floweth over. Disclaimer Two: Opinions expressed in these post are for sheer sardonic effect and are not completely reflective of the novice-writer/wine drinker who has never actually met Robert Parker in her life, ever. He is probably a really nice guy. Maybe.

Despite his nauseating word-choice, however, Mr. Parker creates a clear pathway to my next point: wine glasses do make a difference. And, there is an actual problem in carrying over our old collegiate tradition of plastic Tervis tumblers filled to the brim with 2 buck chuck. Must we really grow up? Yes, my darlings. We must. Because, apparently, the difference cannot be emphasized enough.

For starters. Wine can’t just hang out in our hands encased in plastic. For the most pretentious of wine connoisseurs, there is a firm belief that grimy little paws will destroy and devastate the perfect tasting temperature. And for those painfully self-aware, a person correctly holding a wine glass (by the stem, kids) just looks way more glamorous. All of this is to say that wine glasses are almost as important to wine culture as the wine is itself. Almost.

Here’s the run down. Serious wine-drinkers can open up a whole tool-kit of glass types. But, for us snoobies, we will stick to the basics: Red and White–oh, shocker of the vintage.

Red wine glasses are going to be fat on the bottom and skinny up top. White wine glasses are skinny all the time. Everywhere, everyday, no matter what. Why? Well, because we want to be able to let out the smell (or aroma as the critics might say) of delicious dirty red wine and keep the good aromas in the white wine.

With the wide bowl and narrow rim of a red wine glass, the wine is allowed to do something called oxygenate. Oxygenating wine is an entirely different post for a later life.  But, this essentially means let that taste-genie out of the red wine bottle–according to this LA Times article.  On the other side of things, the narrower bowl and rim of the white wine glass helps keep in the taste and smell of the white wine, which can escape easily–that jail-bird.

The bottom lines, kids:

1. Air = good for red = let ’em loose.
2. Air = not really all that great for white = lock ‘em up.
3. Red wine = fat-bottomed bowl and narrow rim.
4. White wine = narrow-bottomed bowl and narrow rim.
5. Too much wine = fat-bottomed humans that make the rockin’ world go round.
6. Hold the stem (that’s the long stick thing under the wine holding part) and drink from the right glass for Robert Parker’s sake. Cheers, dears!

Bis
C.

xx.

No. 1

Little Wine Shop2010 Clos La Coutale
Cahors, France

Week One. A Saturday evening–slightly before closing–my trusty roommate agreed to wander into the Little Wine Shop in Decatur, GA.

We walked into a space no larger than my living room and were met by a man skipping down the stairs.

About mid-skip and stair, he asked if I needed help.

Me: Well. I’m doing a little “project.” I know nothing about wine and after a flight home where I was forced to face myself for a bit, I decided it was time to learn.

Him: Laughing.

Me: I know. This is strange. But, I have some parameters. It has to be under and $20 and it has to have a high rating. (Rookie mistake #1).

Him: Hm. (Scoffing–yet still cordial) Points.  They don’t matter. See…

He proceeded to explain that (disclaimer: these are my words, not his) a guy named Robert Parker had created said points for losers like me who had previously invested in the idea that we could just find “good” wine using a number system and a pretentious older man’s manufactured critical taste. And because he rose to a place of such elitist wine snobbery–a cheap ass wine for $8 had the potential to become the next big thing at $80 within the next vintage (that’s wine talk for year).

Being the naturally intelligent beings they are, Vintners (that’s wine talk for the people who make wine and also sell it) caught on to this. Thereby selling their souls and their tastebuds to craft wine that would appease the palate of the self-made wine god Sir Robert Parker.

Eventually though, (lucky for us) the hipster and punk-rocking vintners decided to stick it the man and make their own damn wine, whether Robert Parker liked it or not. And priced it properly to boot.

This all goes to say, that I ended up with a bottle of wine imported by a guy named Kermit Lynch who–as the son of a non-wine drinking preacher family–imports wine, writes, and produces alternative albums with titles like “Donuts and Coffee” and “Kitty Fur.” I think I like him.

The bottle suggested to me by Little Wine Shop is not ranked higher than any other wine I might have naively pluck off the shelf for less than $20,  but I walked away satisfied that I was starting off on the right foot.  On top of that, the wine-guy at Little Wine shop made a small victory for those idiosyncratic nonconformist ragers against the egoists in the wine machine.  Bitches.

I was given a bottle of 2010 Clos La Coutale, which originates from a place in the south west of France called Cahors. In the wine world, you would say the appellation of the wine is Appellation d’origine Protégée. Apparently, it used to be called Appellation d’origine Contrôlée. But, a law was passed in 2009, that some vintners had to switch over to use the word Protégée instead. People were sort of pissed about this.  Anyway, that just means that where the hell they got their grapes from is a legitimate grape-growing place, according to the French government. So woohoo for Cahors.

Cahors is a really old region of France complete with a satanic bridge and an ancient reputation for producing some pretty magical grapes.

The bottle of Clos Las Coutale is made of 20% Merlot and 80% Malbec–both grapes originating from that region. That’s right, Argentina, France made Malbec first–you thieving wannabes. Kidding, you guys (sort of). But the blend, much to my delight, made my usual Argentinean go-to wine taste ordinary  in comparison. There are a few steps to taste wine appropriately (according to my google searches). So for all of my fellow snoobs (newby snobs) out there, here is the general break down:

1. Look:  Apparently you hold your glass up to the light, preferably against a white background and describe what it looks like. My glass of Malbec/Merlot–Malblot we can nickname it (Robert Parker is dying slowly somewhere right now)–looks really dark purple in the middle and has a bit of a red tinge on the outside. Because it hails from 2010, it is not going be as orange around the rim as it may have been if it were a bit older.

2. Smell: Alcoholic. Just kidding. You have to swirl your glass around for about 10 seconds, you fool. It smells a bit earthy and definitely flowery.

3. Taste: Begin at the beginning (swish it around), go through the middle (pause to think), and notice the end (swallow and judge the aftermath).

The Beginning:  Definitely soft at the beginning.

The middle: Tangy and fruity in the middle.

The end: Bitter and warm.

The verdict of a novice wine drinker:  At $17.99 a bottle, I wouldn’t pick it up to drink alone on a rainy Tuesday night on the couch. But for a hot date or for cooking a meal with friends that is a bit on the heavier side–most definitely. Overall, a yummy glass of wine for less than $20. Blown out of the park? Not entirely. Try it again? Absolutely.

That’s all folks.  Next week, we shall venture into the land of the whites.  Thanks Little Wine Shop for helping me out!

Bis.,

C.