You’ve forgotten those June nights at the Riviera…the night I drank Champagne from your slipper – two quarts. It would have been more but you were wearing inner soles.- Groucho Marx, At the Circus(1939)
Marx! You’re so silly.
It’s easy enough to forget, but wine is fun. We fall into habits of overthinking, over trying, over concerning ourselves with large doses of details ( I do, at least), when sometimes the most intelligent thing to do is go with the flow. Life is difficult enough, let’s sneak in an easygoing ‘tude when we can. Take the edge off. Wine should definitely serve this purpose.
I go on and on about bubbles. If you can’t tell, I love them. Anytime. Especially on days when I don’t really have to be concerned with…responsibility.
Last weekend I enjoyed a rooftop dinner (thank you global warming and my first class Greenpoint, Bklyn view) with sweet friends and delicious sparkling wines. A Cava called Ca N’Estrella from Rabetllat I Vidal, some sparkling Limoux, and later on, a bottle of Jean Bourdy’s Crémant du Jura (beautiful and bright!) snuck into Angelika Film Center. Poured into plastic Yankee cups, paired with movie popcorn, just the right amount of butter (lots), and My Week With Marilyn- Marilyn would have been proud.
It couldn’t have been a lovelier evening and wine was just along for the ride, a no-brainer. Wine, duh. With the weekend here again, it’s good to remember that sometimes there is little more reason than that to drink it. Delicious, awesome, fun. See? Fun!
I will be celebrating a traditional Luke girl holiday- cookies for breakfast (lunch and dinner too), John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album on repeat, a little Washington state riesling with mom. You know how it goes.
Will be back next week with some bubbly ideas! Merry wishes to you and everyone you love.
After 94 years of strolling through this crazy world my cute little Uncle Andrew passed into the next. Uncle Andrew was a sweet and quirky man who kept a petrified fruit collection and began just about every response with the word “WOW”.
The past few days I’ve been thinking about the clever things he would say in his quiet way. Like this past summer when I saw him shortly after he’d had a haircut. I let him know it looked nice. He thanked me and shared a thought he had at the barber shop. He realized that even while he was sitting there having his hair snipped away, at the same time, it was still growing.
And there it is- life. It doesn’t just exist, it is still growing. All around us, inward and out. It is the essence of the natural world- vegetation, beasts, and even wine- completely alive in its transformation of fruit into a continually developing thing, capable of evolving over days and years and decades. We measure its evolution in the bottle by vintage; once it hits oxygen, by its life cycle in the glass. Anything can happen along the way.
It is a remarkable thing and when we drink the right wines made by the right people, we are reminded that we are alive as well. Difficult to fully conceptualize like any true wonder, but the world would shine a little less without it.
Just wanted to pass along this fun post from Joanna Goddard’s blog, A Cup of Jo. Have you heard of it? It’s adorable. Here, Joanna passes along a few wine etiquette tips with quirky illustrations. They are all good ones, especially #9.
Sending out holiday cards via snail mail is one of my favorite activities. Ever. Strange…but true. This year I got a little crafty and made my own stationary- dipping corks in puddles of Crayola paint and using them as stamps. The finished product looks a little like a kindergarten art project.
Throwing a cork away causes me unbearable guilt. There are several recycling centers that one can send corks to in bulk (Korks4Kids, RECork America). Whole Foods stores in NYC also have cork recycling collection on location. Most satisfying though, is being able to put them to good use. In past years I have used corks to frame pictures and create cork boards- I tell you, they are very cool!
The raw material is harvested from the amazingly regenerative Cork Oak trees which grow around the warmer brim of the Mediterranean coast. Cork is just another one of those amazing products of nature- light in weight yet incredibly strong, it serves to protect the core of trees from harsh humidity. Resistant to fire, water, and (mostly) rot- their purpose transitions from sheltering trees to sheltering our precious juice.
Why not take them one step further- Toothpick figures? Pot holders? Drink the drink, save the stopper, and see what you come up with!
Never ever stop thinking for yourself. Likewise, never ever stop drinking for yourself!
A wine is not going to taste any better or worse because it is poured for a fancy crowd, touted by the coolest of cool, or given a twitter hashtag. Wine drinking trends are just like any other- entertaining and hopefully fun, perhaps a great way to bring something formerly obscure in focus, very often something that passes
Make your choices based on wines that make you feel alive, let your senses have a say.
An example of a trend gone wrong- the death of merlot. Killed off by Sideways lonely heart, Miles Raymond (Giamatti) with a simple line frustratingly declaring that he would not drink merlot. An American movie-going public, hungry for guidance on vinosity, shunned merlot and went crazy for the grape Raymond seemed to support, pinot noir. I heard about the Sideways effect on the market, and saw it firsthand when living in Napa a few years after the movie came out. Vineyard owners were ripping up plots of merlot and replanting the spaces to pinot noir. A friend’s father was trying, fruitlessly (ha), to sell his merlot harvest. No cigar.
And the thing is, it’s a good grape- from the sandy subsoils of northeast Italiy’s region of Friuli, from the dry sunshine-soaked dusty soils of Napa Valley, from the historic vineyards of Pomerol and St. Emillion on the right bank of Bordeaux’s Gironde River- merlot is as lovely now as it has ever been. That is, when it is made by responsible producers, as with any wine. With its medium tannin, medium acidity, and plummy plushness- it renders a steadfast and reliably nice wine. A classic to serve, to gift, to drink.
Psyche! They really do love you…a lot. Maps are amazing. They take you outside of yourself- your corner of the room, block, town, country, continent, universe. We are mere mini-bits of the whole, and the big picture can sometimes be refreshing. Can often be everything.
When it comes to wine, and really, to any product of agriculture, practically everything we need to know can be understood through a map. Answers are buried beneath mountains and their height, rivers, streams and the directions they flow, valleys, shorelines, and sometimes transient political borders. As the grapevine made its travels throughout the globe, every area where it settled has developed its own production techniques- especially in the old world, particularly before this new world thing called globalization. Every people and place has worked with what they had, yielding results completely their own. We are so fortunate to still be able to find wines that are manifestations of this natural individuality.
What I’m getting at is that if you really desire to understand wine, you have to look at a map…a good map and a smart map…for as long as it takes to get it. Carry on and live your life. And then look at that map again. It is best to have one handy.
Beyond their usefulness, I personally believe that maps are attractive decor. When it comes to interior design, art is art, and we would all be somewhat dead inside without it- but at the same time, there is something so sexy about having a sliver of the world, contours and all, hanging in your home.
I am a huge fan of maps from De Long (http://www.delongwine.com/index.php). Featuring wine regions, their legal designations, and topography, De Long’s products are detailed and current.
On the left, an advertisement for a Brookstone “Automatic Wine Opener with Built-in Foil Cutter”. Cost: $49.99. On the right, a classic pulltap corkscrew, which will run you approximately 10 bones, depending on where you shop (ask for a waiter’s wine opener, they are the best).
Now if the fancy is what you fancy, by all means do what you do and rock that Rabbit, Rogar, or Brookstone. There are a number of ways to get a bottle open (including using a shoe, yes a shoe!), but really, the pulltap is where it’s at- requiring just a slight amount of dexterous effort more than most alternatives.
The little feeling of accomplishment experienced after opening a bottle of wine with a pulltap is unmistakable. Like wrapping a present or making a pie crust yourself- the result is a little more personal, a little more yours, a little more satisfying. Plus, the pulltap is quite portable (be a traveling party!), and with the mula that you don’t spend on a crazy contraption you can buy yourself a lovely bottle, or two, or three.