Ladies and Gentlemen,
The days after the elections. The dust has yet to settle. Those of us who live in swing states get a breath of fresh air after the bombardment of political ads, phone calls, and voter-based pamphlets in the mail.
“I need a glass of wine.”
I voted, cast my ballot, exercised my right as a citizen, and waited. As the results came in, there was hope that my small voice made a difference; that the mighty wind of progressive change would continue to blow. The Mistral of the Rhône came to mind, reinforcing my inner wine geek.
There is change in how people think today about the issues that face us, and it got me thinking about how wine, food, and fellowship can be a force in our lives. You see, it doesn’t matter what side of the fence you are on.
Red or blue?
“I say, red, white, and rose.”
The political pundits, the 24-hour news channels, the endless commentary on how one candidate is not right due to being “too extreme” or not “stringent enough.” Another candidate focuses on just one topic, attacking the other guy (or gal) for their inability to listen to the common folk, that they just don’t “get us.”
When it comes to wine, there are a variety of grape varieties, regions, and styles. The wine industry was built on these tenets; though there are differences when it comes to California Pinot Noir vs. Burgundy, you have the god-given right to enjoy (and purchase) what makes sense to you. However, that freedom comes with a price.
Much like our complaint of those public servants we put into office.
Complacency. In the end, nothing gets done.
My job involves communicating with both trade and consumer about the joys of wine and spirits, and puts me in a unique position. I have to qualify the benefits of luxury alcohol in a quantitative manner to all. In effect, I am a pundit for high-end booze consumption. Although it may sound tawdry, do not think I am immune—for that admission in itself requires some responsibility to the public and public good. You can’t get away with simply espousing the good life, as balance is required. As going extreme right or left leaves you fodder for Jon Stewart, drinking before noon every day of the week gives you a nose like Ted Kennedy.
When I look at a wine, I look at how it compares to those in its field. Does it present a good value? Is it representative of the region? Does the wine have a sense of place? Does it have a soul? I ask if it would be better suited with lamb instead of beef, salmon rather than ahi.
It lives, it breathes; that it be taken out of context is no different than the politician who says something out of turn after nine days with no sleep on a statewide rally.
Is it a fruit or a flower day, according to the biodynamic calendar? Wines have bad days too. That I ascribe to the calendar in the first place, have I now lent credence to a higher power?
Have I lost my wine agnostic constituents?
The good thing is that wine and spirits are of leisure. They are, and should be, enjoyed, savored—enjoyed immensely with friends and family, irreverent of party. As I age, I’d like to think that I become more tolerant of opinion, whether it be in the political arena or in the world of wine. Against abortion? That’s your thing. Want to drink White Zinfandel? Live and let live, brother.
We can have standards, though.
High quality, and a willingness to shake hands across the nation. The following are wines I have blind tasted over the past few weeks. Non-partisan, unbiased. They didn’t suck. I call them…
Wines That Transcend Party Lines (Or Create Them)
Domaine Roulot Bourgogne Blanc 2011—I had the chance to taste this wine with friends. Pure Chardonnay—it has the weight of Meursault (it should, being declassified village fruit). Lemon, pear, and mineral notes on a medium-bodied frame. Pricey, but worth it, in the vein of other top white Burgundy producers such as Coche-Dury, Anne-Claude Leflaive, and Raveneau.
Charles Heidseick Brut Millesime 2005—Gorgeous red apple, meyer lemon, and brioche notes with a consistent mousse. Rich, yet not cloying, this Champagne delivers an awful lot. Absolutely delicious, and classy all the while. Think of a bill presented by Republicans that will not get vetoed in the next couple of years. This is that wine.
Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero 2009—This Tempranillo, made by Alejandro Fernandez of Tinto Pesquera, one of the great winemakers of Spain. Dark cherry, raspberry, damson plum, and enough oak that keeps you interested without pulling a two by four out of your mouth. This baby shows great, but has the ability to age until the next mid-term election, and won’t break the bank. Are you my libertarian?
Presqu’ile Pinot Noir 2010—Now, I have to admit, I have a dog in this hunt (the company I work for represents this winery). But, I blinded it (someone else in the party brought the bottle), thought it had California fruit, Burgundian earth tones, and balanced alcohol. Cherry, rhubarb, and pomegranate with wild strawberry. Want a food wine from the States to handle both lamb and terducken? Thanksgiving dinner already stressful enough with your dysfunctional family? Bob’s your uncle.
With great wine, anything is possible.