Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “Wine School

June’s Wine School: Dry Riesling

As I mentioned when I discussed May’s wine choice, I purchased this bottle from a place in California and had to have it shipped to Missouri, where one of my best friends then physically brought it to me in New York.

Totally worth it though because I really wanted to try the exact wine Eric Asimov suggested, and I simply don’t have it in me to visit multiple different wine shops locally.

Not when it can be found online.

What can I say?

I’m a millennial, don’t judge me.

So, I haven’t been blogging with the consistency I would like, but five posts in four weeks is an improvement over recent history. Plus, I’ve been busy.

I went back to yoga! Hot yoga is the best! I’ve been so busy with this departmental transition at work. if you follow me on Instagram, you saw me post one of my last “goodnight Empire State Building” posts meaning I’m moving to the day shift. I’m still trying out the video blogging thing. A few logistics are tripping me up, but I’m almost there.

And sleep, sleep takes up a bunch of my time.

Anyway, back to this wine.

I tried June’s wine the day after I tried the Sancerre from May.

I think I’ve mentioned once or twice how much I love Riesling. It’s my favorite white wine. I was already moving more towards drier Rieslings even before I fell in love with Bordeaux. But since my love affair with Bordeaux began, I pretty much have to drink a dry Riesling if I’m going to drink Riesling at all.

Expecting to love this bottle of wine, I eagerly opened it. And I was not disappointed. I was everything I already love about Riesling: sweet-but-not-too-sweet, acidic tartness somewhere far in the back, feels like 100% juice in the mouth, always inviting me to take another sip.

Let’s talk about sweet-but-not-too-sweet. If you don’t like sweet wines at all, you won’t like this. But Riesling has always been my go-to wine for super newbies to try. People who swear wine is too bitter for them can usually find something to like about Riesling. The wine I usually have them try is now too sweet for me to drink with any regularity, but this Riesling was great, not too sweet.

Now about this acidic tartness. The best comparison is the feeling you get in your mouth when you’re eating sauteed cabbage that’s been finished with vinegar. In my mouth, it has that same tartness. If you don’t like cabbage, ignore that comparison. But seriously, sauteed cabbage with bacon and finished with white wine vinegar? So good. That’s what I should have made to go with this wine!

No time for regrets though. We’re on to the mouth feel. When I say it felt like 100% juice, I mean it didn’t feel heavy. Unless you shop exclusively organic, you’ve at some point bought juice that wasn’t quite all “juice”. That syrupy mouth-coating feeling you get from Hawaiian Punch, Sunny D, or juice cocktail is the feeling I’m saying this wine didn’t have. It just felt clean and clear, if that makes sense.

Last is the inviting nature. I’ve never had trouble finishing a bottle of Riesling, and this bottle was no different. Unlike the Beaujolais, which I had to put in effort to finish the bottle of, the Riesling was gone. And missed. It surprised me when I discovered the bottle was empty. It wasn’t a happy moment.

The bottle I tried was Donnhoff Nahe Riesling Trocken. I found it online, and I think I paid ~$20 for it, not including shipping.

May's bottle of Sancerre and June's bottle of Riesling. Riesling is on the left.

May’s bottle of Sancerre and June’s bottle of Riesling. Riesling is on the left.

Because of the time I took off from blogging, I ended up purchasing the next five months of wine school bottles all at once, which was nice because I saved on the shipping.

If you’d like to see what Eric Asimov from the New York Times has to say about Dry Riesling, click here.


May’s Wine School: Sancerre

Hey y’all!

I know I’m extra late here, but due to being super busy and having such a difficult time even finding the recommended wine for Wine School, I didn’t even try the May wine until the middle of August.

And I took 100+ days off from blogging, but I’m finally posting this now.

Instead of going to all these different local wine shops (because who has time for that?), I just used Google shopping and finally found the exact bottle I wanted from a wine shop in California.

Eric Asimov chose some pretty hard to find wines. May came and went and I still couldn’t find the wine in New York, you know, cause I looked so hard. So I was back to the store in California.

Here’s the catch, the store doesn’t ship to New York State or Illinois. But luckily, my best friend lives in St. Louis, and they do ship to Missouri. I called him and begged him to let me send the wine to him. He agreed because he’s the best.

All he had to do was ship it to me once it arrived. By this time, it was mid-June. My friend who works for UPS gave me advice on the best way to get this bottle to New York from Missouri. It involves a bit of don’t ask, don’t tell of the is-this-alcohol-let’s-not-discuss-it variety. Suffice it to say, it didn’t go as planned.

Luckily, my friend came to visit NYC in August. He packed my wine in his suitcase and hand-delivered the bottles. Yes, I said bottles.

 

Sancerre and June's bottle of Riesling

Sancerre and June’s bottle of Riesling

I went through all of this just to try this wine, but it makes for a good story I guess. The silver lining is that they also had June’s wine: Riesling, which is pictured above with the Sancerre. Don’t even get me started on how much I love Riesling, and how I’ve been moving toward drier Rieslings recently anyway, which is exactly the type chosen for Wine School.

Even better than the hand delivered wine was the fun weekend my best friend and I had while he was here. We took what had to be our 37th selfie, and I feel like I’m getting pretty good at taking them.

I usually start with cutting my face out. But I get it right on the 2nd or 3rd try.

I usually start with cutting my face out. But I get it right on the 2nd or 3rd try.

So how did I feel about Sancerre? Well… ever since I began my love affair with Bordeaux, I haven’t loved white wine nearly as much as I used to. But the wine wasn’t bad. it’s made from sauvignon blanc grapes, but apparently it’s different from sauvignon blanc wine.

We were encouraged to respond emotionally to the wine rather than “hyper-rational”, so that’s what I tried to do. In hindsight, I don’t remember loving the wine and I wasn’t fantasizing about what meals go great with it. But I liked it.

The taste of it reminded me of mud pies. Well, not mud pies exactly. Did you ever make a mud pie as a child? I did, but not out of mud. My “mud pies” were made from sand in the sandbox at the park near my childhood best friend’s apartment. I may or may not have taken a bite just to see how powerful my imagination was. My imagination was not powerful enough to make a sandy mud pie taste like anything but sandbox.

Moving on.

I did check a couple of times to see if there was sand in the bottom of my glass, like maybe some micro pieces of the cork got in somehow. Something about Sancerre reminded me of that time in my childhood.

I ended up drinking the Sancerre along with a pretty interesting meal. I had a friend over for a girl’s night in dinner. I made homemade shrimp alfredo with spinach fettuccine, roasted zucchini, roasted yellow squash, roasted asparagus, collard greens and roasted chicken. I love salads, but when it’s time to cook for a guest, no light meals. I refuse.

Don't let all the veggies fool you. This was not a light meal!

Don’t let all the veggies fool you. This was not a light meal!

While I’m thinking about emotional responses to the wine, I remember feeling peppy. It wasn’t a long lingering bubble bath kind of wine. It was a 90s pop music sing-a-long kind of wine. On top of a flavorful meal, the wine combatted the feelings of wanting to curl into a sleepy little ball. We watched The First Wives Club while we ate, and I feel like Sancerre made me just a touch wittier with my talking during the movie commentary.

Overall, I didn’t love it enough to put the wine in the regular rotation. But I would probably jump at the opportunity to enjoy a wine flight at a bar or restaurant that included Sancerre.

Image via Amazon

 

Obviously, I’m super far behind, but I’ll try and catch up to November. Here are the upcoming wines.
June: Riesling
July: Zinfandel
August: Chablis
September: Chianti
October: Champagne
November: Rioja

It’s like he knew my birthday month is October and wanted to celebrate!

I’ve already tried June’s wine, I just have to post what I wrote about it. After that I have five more. Five new wine choices in just a few weeks is my goal. Wish me luck to actually find those selections though!


Wine School?? Hell Yeah, Challenge Accepted

Did you ever have that moment where you’re reading something on Wikipedia and you look up 7 hours later wondering how you got from Batman comic books to a historical exploration of homosexuality in Greece to the population demographics of African countries in 1900s to Reese Witherspoon’s filmography?

I know it is not just me.

This type of thing happens to me more than I’d care to admit. And it is not just Wikipedia. It happens when I Google something and then jump from website to website reading randomly connected articles all linking to one another. Last night, I was berating myself for somehow missing that Fred Armisen and Elisabeth Moss have divorced and they met when Jon Hamm hosted SNL. How did I miss that?

Anyway, this type of internet browsing happens to me often enough where I’m officially frustrated that I don’t have a wonderfully pithy catchphrase to describe it.

Last night my browsing took me to the New York Times online. It started where it always does, at the Opinion pages. Then The Gun Report. By the way, ten people got shot in Chicago on Monday. The first day over 50 degrees. Really, Chicago?!

After hopping from article to article, somehow I ended up trying to decide if I would beg Easy to try a new recipe for polenta or quinoa. My gut says polenta because he’s weird about texture, but somehow that sent me to a string of articles about which wines to pair with which meals.

Then I had that moment, where I’m all like, “my people!”

Then I mentioned this concept to a co-worker and she called it pretentious.

Then I was sad. She didn’t mean it as an official insult, just as an observation, but still.

Then I remembered I don’t really care what people think, which is why I don’t mind that even writing this blog post is furthering me being labelled by my entire family of in-laws as bourgie (is that how you spell the hood way of saying bourgeois? I never knew for sure).

Anyway, back to my point.

The man recommended champagne as the perfect wine pairing to fried chicken. I think I just met my best friend y’all. Eric Asimov used to write in Chicago, now he writes in New York. I don’t know how I’ve managed to miss all the wonderful things he has to say.

I’ll forgive myself for not seeing the man before today. It’s like the nerdy guy in high school that no one noticed was hot the whole time until he returns for Thanksgiving break freshman year of college.

Yesterday was the perfect day to notice Mr. Asimov because today he started Wine School.

Here’s how it will work: Each month I will pick a type of wine we will explore together. I will suggest three representative examples of that wine, and if you want to join me, I hope you will be able to find at least one of those bottles. If they are not at your wine shop, which is always frustrating, consider asking your merchant to find them, searching for them in other wine stores or ordering them online. You have time to hunt them down.

I was in when he told me to get out my corkscrew. Just reading pas articles of his about wine pairings let me know I have so much to learn. Right now, I’m all Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In every single article of his I read, there were at least three wines mentioned I didn’t even know existed.

So, I’m getting out my corkscrew and signing up for wine school. I’m so excited!

The first wine type is Bordeax. It just so happens that I have a bottle of white Bordeax at home. My favorite wine shop in the West Village recommended it to me the last time I was in retail therapy mode. But I’m going to stick with his list of recommendations.

His best suggestion for wine school? This is not wine tasting, it’s wine drinking. Wine tasting is how professionals learn a lot about a variety of wines quickly. But he wants his pupils to learn about the wine and really dive in, get to know the wines, drink the entire bottle over more than one meal, if you can.

If all school were like this, I’d have 5 degrees.

Here are the three wines Eric Asimov wants me to try one or two of:

CHÂTEAU BERNADOTTE HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $32 (Sherry-Lehmann Selections/Le Reine Importing, New York)
CHÂTEAU CANTEMERLE HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $53 (Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York)
CHÂTEAU SOCIANDO-MALLET HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $62 (Frederick Wildman & Sons)

I wish they cost less money, but advanced education is hardly ever cheap. Eric Asimov says there’s no need to buy all three wines. Just pick one, pair it with simply prepared lamb or beef, and don’t forget to take notes.

Like I said, challenge accepted.