Dinners.... Engagements... upcoming weddings... When I first started the imbibe blog I thought, jesus... what am I going to be writing about?? Liquid libations in life abound but who hasn't talked about it or heard it all before? You can only tune out cause sometimes there's only so many ways to have a certain drink right? I could show you how to make it and... we're done right?? Well, I am discovering that day by day something always comes up to write about, many of times under unexpected circumstances.
Last night I was at a TastePost dinner. The Washington Post newspaper has a group membership for people who like to dine. Our hero here who loves to cook is also a food nut, and had the opportunity to sign up for the group last year. The TastePost club offered members to pay for a meal downtown in the Reagan building. To cut to the chase, I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to write about for my blog and focus on the wine that was served with the "Urban Farm Table on the Plaza" menu.
Now I know what you're thinking. Ethan, you said you wouldn't write about wine... And I agree I wasn't going to focus on it for this blog. But this is an imbibing blog, and this was a perfect opportunity to do this, and after quaffing there was definitely something I could write about. I am always sheepish about writing about wine. I have consumed and been drinking wine for a long time and have a myriad of tastes and flavors that I love to find. Drinking wine, is like trying to find god, but it's so varied (I am always trying to find god in the bottle in everything I drink). I have had so much and so many varietals from places all over the world, I would make my notes, but then those notes would be discarded. Many times... I could not refer to the vast library that I had in the past consumed. And to this day many times I still can't. Perhaps after today, that may change, when I write something down it seems to stick to memory better. Perhaps this is a new beginning.... maybe...
The next step would be to really start buying and making some room for bottles. But who has the room and money for this? Pfft.. not me! True... you don't need to spend LOTS of money on good wine, trust me you don't. The spirits realm made more sense. Open a bottle, have a little... it keeps (except maybe sweet vermouth), no worries, back on the shelf you go for some other day. Open up a bottle of wine and it's gone unless... you have another bottle! Gets kind of pricey don't you think??
However, I consume wine like no tomorrow, and my wife is not a big drinker. Wines that we buy seem to take a long time to get drunk cause my wife just likes to drink occasionally and has bottles sit around forever. I remember when I first met her she had bottles of wine that had been sitting around in a wine fridge and I started drinking them and then there would be nothing left for her. However, many times I saved her the trouble since she didn't drink so often, many of those wines she had left had turned to vinegar. So if I buy something now... I have no room... and I have to share... pfft.. or buy a lot (where am I going to put all this stuff???!? the spirit bottles are everywhere in my house now...)
The other thing is the elitist sometimes cult attitude and upper-crust snobbery that comes with Oenophiles (wine afficiandos). I have a tendency to stay away from this, in many ways wine has an intense cerebral connotation to it, there is so much going on and so much you can find and so much to disagree on. Wine in this form and its appreciation I find is divisive, we have to agree to disagree, and many times I don't find the same things the "experts" do or tell us. For example, Robert Parker who is basicaly the living breathing godlike wine expert on the planet, isn't someone I always agree with. Does that mean he's wrong... uh who the hell am I to tell him so? He does this thing for a living and has gods cellar in his house I am sure, so that answer is no. But I discovered that the 90-93 wines he rates I enjoy much more often then anything he rates higher than that. So interestingly enough it's a neat comparison, but I also know he has had WAY more wine than I can ever try to catch up on currently (lord knows I'd like to try some day).
I always had a saying in comparison:
Wine sometimes is the great divider, where as beer is the great communal bond, it emancipates everyone it can bring everyone together! Well okay... I am waxing a bit too poetic there, and that isn't always true, the point is (and lets get back on topic) tastes are not always shared no matter what we drink, but we all agree we enjoy it. Cheers!
So it seems as much as I want to write about imbibing, wine will be a part of it in some fashion and last night was a good excuse.
The evening first started off with some simple bites with some bubbly. I wish I could have made some notes on it... but I forgot and didn't think about writing for this blog until we sat down for dinner. A woman came by to join us who was from the Washington Wine Academy and was telling us that they had picked the wines for tonight's dinner. Suddenly the lightbulb went off in my head!!
"The bubbly you're drinking tonight is the same that was served at Chelsea's wedding! ", she quipped. Huh what wait a minute, I thought... shoot... what? I had already two glasses and now I could not remember exactly everything about it. Bubbles are fun, but it isn't what I go for in general when it comes to wine. I do remember it was better than say... regular store everyday occurrence stuff, we were definitely not drinking something ordinary, but unfortunately I could say there wasn't much too memorable about it. If there was I could easily tell you right now. Did I like it, sure it was a great start particularly with the seafood bites that were served. I don't think there was much of a mousse on it... I can't remember... shoot.
Speaking of bites, my wife got an oyster when we first arrived. Instant flashback and animal instincts took over as soon as I saw it, it was as if I was transplanted back in time to the oyster festival in St. Marys county MD again. DUDE I nearly screamed... Where is mine? (there was only one on the plate), oh we'll be back, the waiter chimed... He was... but I went without an oyster as the creature disappeared from sight never to been seen again...
So unfortunately Chelsea's bubbly took a back seat and got upstaged by the oyster.
However, imbibing was to soon come.
We sat down to dinner and I realized we had wine with each course.. DUDE you can write about this.. And so... here we go... please keep in mind that I will be talking about the WINE in this blog and not so much the dishes that were served. I could but I am going to try and stay as focused as I can on this. I would at this part like to thank someone for the pictures who was attending the evening. Pamela Lynne Sorenson was someone (among many others) I met across the table who was very charming and real nice. She took the pictures below. She also has a website which I would recommend you check out and find out about food and events going on around DC. You can see it here --> Pamela's Punch perhaps she will make note about the event as well (See her August 8th posting).
Entree 1: Sweet Pea Veloute - Grilled Carolina Day Boat Shrimp and Pea Tendrils Olive Oil Foam
Wine: Albrecht Reisling Reserve 2009 (YO DUDES YOU SPELLED Riesling wrong on the menu!!! HA HA!!!) hey I love to kid...
Nose: A bouquet consisting what I thought was mostly some type of bitter melon. Definitely melon, but not cantaloupe or something sweet, there was also a very slight floral scent on the nose I thought. I got a faint whiff of lavender.
Taste/Feel: Quite good, acidity? hard for me to judge, is this low/high/med what the heck? It's comparisons like this where I can get lost cause it's not as if I try 20 Alsace Rieslings a day let alone in a month and I can compare acidity... This is where some possible practice would help. There truly was a bitter melon type of finish on it to me. I enjoy wine from Alsace a lot, I really dig the Gewurztraminers that come from this region.
Pairing with food: Long story short, I didn't think this wine was an ideal pairing with the entree. The entree didn't complement the flavors of mellon since it was earthy pea tasting, and contrasting tastes didn't fly for me either. Later in the evening a gentleman who runs and works with the WWA asked us about the pairing and mentioned that many people liked it. I personally thought that a wine that could go good with this pea could have been something more earthy, the soup reminded me of soil.. earth... minerals... there should have been something to match that I thought. But hey... nobody is complaining!
Entree 2: Grilled Golden River Trout Summer Succotash, Benton's Tennessee Ham, Sweet Corn Vinaigrette
Wine: Nautilus Pinot Noir 2008 (Marlborough, NZ)
Nose: medium bodied, dark cherry fruit possibly some blueberry on the nose as well, jam smell.
Taste/Feel: very light bodied almost Valpolicella like, fairly medium tannins? Who has tannins? I need more tannins to compare!! (see this is why I have a hard time reviewing wine). Slight tobacco on the finish.
Pairing with food: Overall it was a good pairing surprisingly. Good piece of trout too by the way.
Entree 3: Fire Roasted Ayrshire Farm Beef Striploin, w/ Stuffed Baby Zucchini, Morel Mushrooms, Oca Potatoes, Roquefort Beurre "Maitre d'Hotel:
Wine: Bodega Weinert Malbec 2004 (Argentina)
MALBEC!!! DUDE I love Malbec! Ah ha and here's why!!!
Nose: Somewhat floral, but mostly herbal. Tea like, rosehip and/or black. Potpurri bouquet. Faint cinnamon, maybe some cloves also. I could bury my face in this all night, lots going on. love it!
Taste: Sweet slightly in the mouth, incredibly soft feel tannins, the potpurri really seems to come through on the finish, the wine has more body than of course the previous ones. Full of win!
Food Pairing: Yes it worked, even though the Roquefort/cheese was powerful it was a good contrast. Heck I don't care if it even DIDN'T work I would have eaten anything with this wine because.... I would have the wine to drink! I could drink this all night. Easily the best wine offered at the venue. I don't care just give me more of it.
Dessert: Jasmine Tea Mousse, Plum Sorbet w/ Coconut Cream and Yuzu
Wine: Saracco Moscato D'Asti 2009 (Italy)
Nose: Peaches... easily.. fizzy as well some bubbles.
Taste: peaches once again, and to me a taste of vanilla ice CREAM... specifically "Cream" with a capital "C".
Food Pairing: perfect, probably the most accurate and spot on pairing of the night, and this is coming from a guy who is not a dessert fan at all.
So there you have it!
Seems there is always something to imbibe on, and it also seems to reinforce the point I've never had a Malbec I didn't like. Once again thanks again to Pamela for the pictures, and also the Washington Wine Academy for setting this up.