Shall we explore the world of restaurant wine lists, while interpolating the badassness of Earth Wind & Fire in the process?
What the hell, why not?
First, we can establish the baddassness of EWF right away – that’s easy: They funked, singing harmonies in octaves that would require most people to otherwise suck helium to achieve, all the while dancing in reflective costumes with capes. If that’s not badass, then I don’t kow what badass is.
What brings EWF to mind (in other words, what the f–k does this have to do with wine)?
I recently did a restuarant wine pairing review of a new wine list concept at nearby Teikoku for West Chester PA foodie website WC Dish. According to the Teikoku website (bolded items highlighted by me):
“For millennia, many eastern cultures have embraced the notion that five fundamental elements govern all aspects of life and environment. Though these elements appear in many forms, the most common are Earth, Water, Fire, Wind & Sky. At Teikoku we believe that wine can be represented by these elements as well. Keep in mind that our wines are not arranged according to conventional methods. We have selected a more transcendent form of organization. Perhaps our philosophy will offer you a unique perspective on your dining experience.“
I found the wine choices to be quite well done, and in some cases even inspired, with very good by-the-glass selections reflecting quite a bit of the diversity in today’s wine market (Spanish Rose, Torrontes, Carmenere, etc.).
But it’s the Elemental wine concept that obviously stands out as unique. I’ve seen many, many styles of restaurant wine lists, from the stuffy and mundane “By Region” to wine flights inspired by a wine’s palate weight, proces or even just fun, semi-random themes. But this is a different take entirely.
Teikoku’s list certainly brings the Earth Wind & Fire funkiness. The trouble is, I’m not sure it actually helps anyone navigate the wine list any better than a more traditional method.
Some of us might feel a need to be more “grounded” on a particular day and gravitate towards the Earth (get it?) theme wines… but I can imagine many others looking at the Earth heading and wondering if the wine is going to taste like a mouthful of dirt.
But… you’ve got to give props to Teikoku for what they’re trying to do. Unless you think they’re trending towards the gimmicky side. What do you think? Are they bringing the funk with this kind of wine list? Or are they just wearing the silver jumpsuits and capes?
Which got me thinking, Are other restaurants doing this? Will we see a more progressive trend towards different wine list presentations? And if we do, will these help the consumer? Or just confuse them even more? Let me know YOUR thoughts! Let’s Groove, baby! ————————————————-
Ok, before you start writing me off as a hedonistic waste (at least, on the basis of this post title), please check out the post I wrote for Toast To Change, a web network brain-child of Schramsberg Vineyards.
As described by the TTC website:
Toast to Change… celebrates the power each of us has to embrace and inspire change. Join our community of wine lovers and raise your glass to making changes in our lives and championing others who bring about real change in our world.
I don’t consider myself to be someone who is bringing about world-altering change, but I was invited to pen a toast so I decided to write about the things that had inspired me most in 2008: Wine, Women, and Song.
I advise you to taste wine like a Pro – a Pro at living, that is.
I was reading a nice little article about the Art of Living, by lifehack.org’s Dustin Wax, and it struck me that two of Dustin’s guidelines (“Pay Attention” and “Be Appreciative“) are applicable to wine appreciation as well as being a useful as a general approach to living.
Too many people that I meet either a) don’t give a sh*t about how to taste wine (i.e., they guzzle it) or b) are petrified that they are tasting wine the “wrong” way.
Neither approach will give you much true enjoyment when it comes to tasting wine.
The mechanics are important, but they will no more help you to taste artfully than knowing how to hold a paintbrush will teach you how to express yourself through painting.
Really tasting wine is a bit of an art that is built upon the fundamentals of those mechanics. And it’s really no more difficult to taste artfully than it is to live artfully. The art of tasting really does come down to tasting with Attention and Gratitude.
Attention is simply being mindful of the wine in the glass. Every wine, even total plonk, is trying to tell you something. You need only “listen” to it, giving it as much natural concentration and focus as you can (even if this is only a few good seconds of real concentration). Connect with that glass of wine. Merge with it, give it a moment where it’s just the two of you in all the universe.
Gratitude is just that – be grateful for the moment you have with that wine. If it helps, tell it “thank you” (I’m not kidding). If you thank everything in your day to day life (even red lights!), you will be amazed at how your outlook starts to shift.
Attention & Gratitude – two great tastes that taste great together, at least when it comes to tasting wine. Try them out, and put a little art into your next wine & cheese party this holiday.
According to one article on the study findings: “Contrary to the basic assumptions of economics, several studies have provided behavioral evidence that marketing actions can successfully affect experienced pleasantness by manipulating nonintrinsic attributes of goods.”
[ My translation: instead of telling you that the wine is “an everyday guzzler” or “as close to sublime perfection as humans are likely to reach,” they just upped or lowered the price. ]
This struck me as totally odd (in terms of this being contrary to economic assumptions). I mean, aren’t we talking about something that marketing types, hucksters, clever business folk, and seductresses have known for maybe hundreds of years? Not only does a higher price give you the cache factor of shelling out for “the best,” setting a higher price does something else just as important:
It gives your brain the opportunity to indulge in anticipation of experiencing “the best.” Which is, I’d argue, an essential element in making a “good” experience – a meal, a movie, a date, a wine, and (especially!) sex – “great.”…
What studies like this one don’t mean is that you can’t tell the difference between wine that is pure plonk and wine that is superb. Almost anyone can do that, provided that they are willing to do a little bit of learning beforehand.
The studies also don’t mean that you need fancy-schmancy wine certifications, or advanced study under your belt, to appreciate wine. For that, you only need an open mind, patience, and the willingness to learn. Incidentally, these are the same things that you need to better appreciate a good meal, a movie, a date, and (especially!) sex.
I’m not sure what enlightenment we’re hoping to reach with all of this wine duping afoot, but I can tell you this: You know what they say about sex? ” When it’s good, it’s great. And when it’s bad, well, it’s still pretty good!”
The same applies to wine (and other great experience-givers) because, fundamentally, wine gives us pleasure, connect us together, and provide us the opportunity to open our minds a bit further than they were a few minutes before.
And if we indulge in a bit of anticipation to heighten the experience? From what I can tell, the most harm it might cause us is to think that the experience is a bit better than someone else thought it was.
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