Posts Filed Under kick-ass wines
While you’re reading this, most of the U.S. will have just crawled out from under some of the most bitter winter cold to hit the country in over a decade. Not so much cold that gets into your bones so much as cold that gets into your soul, the kind of cold that embitters otherwise cheerful people towards life itself. This is Chill, With Extreme Prejudice.
I mention this “so frosty, this blows” scenario as contextual backdrop, because I couldn’t find a wine to match it in the sample pool. I had to turn to spirits to get my insides even close to a state resembling warmth.
Spirits are an appropriate choice, I think, for weather that cares not whether you live or die. And that’s because spirits aren’t drinks that care, either.
Really, if you try to imaginatively personify anything over 20% alcohol by volume, you come up with something that really doesn’t give a rat’s tookus what you think about it. When you get to 80-proof distilled spirits, you’re entering the honey-badger-don’t-give-a-f*ck territory of drinks.
In some ways, you gotta love the gaudily impressive sample of cognac that I had on hand, Frapin’s Extra Grande Champagne “Premier Cru” Cognac. A female acquaintance told me, upon tasting it, that “it makes me make ‘a face’,” scrunching up her nose. “That’s okay,” I answered, “don’t feel bad, it doesn’t give a damn what you think about it…”
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When I include “unbearable cuteness” in the title, I am talking about unbearable cuteness. The kind of cuteness that is adorable and crushing at the same time. The kind of cuteness that requires vintage rosé Champagne, Australia’s possibly-best-in-country Viognier (from Yalumba), and vino from one of California’s more off-the-radar Pinot Noir producers to escape it (to keep up with the cuteness, all of the wines featured today have “quoted” fancy names… it will all make sense in a few minutes, okay?).
To wit: two five year old BFF daughters of separate families who, living many miles from one another and attending different schools, without communicating to one another asked their respective parents at the same time and on the same day if they could wear matching leg warmers that they both received as gifts.
That is the kind of unbearable cuteness I am talking about. Yes, one of the five year olds “belongs” to me. Eventually, as parents of the BFFs you need a double-date night just to forget about the power of cuteness like that. Which is what we did, and I, being 1WD, naturally use the opportunity of the double-date night as an opportunity to raid the wine sample pool (and incur a possible dinner tax write-off… just sayin’…).
Oh, and before you ask, I do not have pictures of these two kids together wearing their leg warmers, which is just as well because it would make your face explode due to overdose of concentrated cuteness. It’s times like these that I sometimes wish I’d had a boy, but those moments are only millisecond-term fleeting. Mostly, having a young daughter is like having 90% of your life become adorable, and I love it. Yeah, I know the Universe will pay me back later in the form of lecherous boys coming to the door asking her out on dates… and No, I am not yet okay with that.
Anyway… I swear to god that there is some wine involved here, so let’s climb out of the cuteness and talk about what I popped open with our dinner guests during said double-date night…
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The food scene in my adopted hometown of Philadelphia is, in a word, insane.
As in, insanely good; seriously, if you have a bad meal in Philly it means that you’re either dumb, unlucky, or maybe both.
I recently had a bromantic rendezvous at one of the places that has given rise to Philly’s vaulted status as a foodie town, when I joined wine blogger Jeremy Parzen and one of his clients, Paolo Cantele, for dinner at the acclaimed (and insanely small) Vetri. “Jar” and I have had a long-standing mutual admiration society going online for about five years, so things got embarrassingly effusive between us (particularly as the wine starting flowing… oh, special thanks to Jeremy for supplying the food porn pics for this post, by the way).
On a brief side note, “Jar” and I discussed an interesting concept during our meal: whether or not we are, as wine bloggers, making the world a better place. It’s a potentially complicated topic, in my view, and Jeremy seemed to think that for various reasons (democratization of wine criticism, ability to focus on unsung regions/producers/stories, near-instantaneous two-way communication / discussion with readers, etc.) that we are making the world better through what we do. I wasn’t so sure; not those things aren’t great (they are), or that the wine world isn’t better with them (it is), or that I don’t enjoy the private emails and messages that I get from people every so often telling me that I helped them get to a point of independence in their lives when it comes to wine (I love those moments). The implication is that traditional wine media, in its focus on “ivory tower” style coverage/ratings, does a disservice in some way to (at least some percentage) of wine lovers. But look, we’re not rescuing people from burning high-rises here, folks; we’re discussing the awesomeness of fermented grape juice, a luxury product for the world’s affluent (of which you, if you have the disposable income to purchase fine wine, are a part, when judged by worldwide poverty standards). I’m not sold on it, yet.
Anyway… Jeremy has an excellent overview of the meal – which I’d rank well within the top five that I’ve ever had worldwide, which hopefully means something coming from a guy who has had a surfeit of luxury wine-and-dining experiences – posted over at Do Bianchi. So rather than tell you about the small intestine cheese we devoured, I’ll detail the amazing wines that Vetri’s wine guy, Steve Wildy, selected for this small but vinously demanding crowd, one of which happened to be a seminal red wine experience for my drinking life so far.
You know, so you can hate us even more than you would after only reading Jeremy’s post…
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I live in one of the most puritanically backward states in the Union.
I know, this should’ve dawned on me some time ago, but I never said I was quick study. It took hosting our hairdresser and his boyfriend for dinner to make me fully realize how ass-backward PA really is. [ Editor’s note: Yes, the hairdresser is actually gay. Sometimes dogs pee right on the fire hydrant, too, okay? Just because it sounds cliché doesn’t mean that it doesn’t actually happen from time to time. If I could have made him a firefighter instead of a hairdresser I would do it, not that there is anything wrong with being a gay hairdresser, but it would’ve sounded more original. In any case, it wouldn’t have been true, so just get over it! ]
I’m not actually talking about the fact that Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that operate as an anti-capitalist monopoly regarding the sale and distribution of alcohol. That’s just the tip of the disquieting, anti-intellectual iceberg. Or that PA seems to be in a near-continual battle to have creationism taught in schools, as if it were actually a science, which it’s not (not even close). [ Editor’s note: Don’t get me started on this… but since we did get started, I feel it’s worth noting that there are very few areas of science which have both overwhelming evidence in support of their theories and insanely good track records of measurable predictability. Three of these are quantum physics, the General Relativity theory (including gravitation), and… evolution. Saying one doesn’t “believe” in evolution is more or less akin to saying that one doesn’t “believe” in gravity. Neither gravity nor evolution nor quantum physics – nor all of the evidence in support of all three, of which there is… well, a lot – care that you don’t agree with them, they just *are* and they go right on predicting outcomes to insanely long decimal points of accuracy. ]
The kicker for me is that Pennsylvania has yet to recognize same-sex marriages. The whole thing is getting embarrassing, frankly. It’s like we made it out of 1957, only no one bothered to tell most of my state (or its legislators). At this point the natural reaction is to think, “well, why don’t you just move somewhere else, dumb ass?” Which of course fails to take into account everything else – family, neighborhood, friends, school systems, jobs – particularly the fact that otherwise I love the state enough to want to actually change things for the better here.
Anyway, despite our hairdresser’s boyfriend having worked as a bartender, neither of our guests professes to be well-versed in wine. And so the idea was to expose these guys to vinous stuff that they might not get to try very often, but that was also tasty enough to be enjoyed without too much context or “geeking.” Tasty enough to temporarily salve the pain inflicted by the policies of their home state? Well, let’s just say we all managed to forget about PA’s anachronistic transgressions for at least one evening…
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