Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stuff: Gasps of Wrath

From the mind of Miss J: Wine... For some, it's a hobby... for the French and Italians it is synonymous with water... for me, it's that glass of perspective after an aggravating day at work... But for some, wine is a terrifying world of foreign languages, complex flavors and societal pressure that leaves them tongue-tied... I've seen people, in restaurants, order merlot or cabernet because it was the only thing they recognized on the wine list and they didn't want to make a mistake.

People tend to think of wine as something only enjoyed by polo-shirt wearing (with the collar turned up, of course,) pinky extending individuals named Spalding, or Chad (ok, maybe not Spalding.) In actuality, it has historically been just as common in the farmhouse as the palace... Granted, what you would get in the farmhouse may have removed the enamel from your teeth, but by all accounts, most peasants were minus a few teeth anyway, right? In any event, these days young urban professionals pack themselves, cheek by jowl, into snooty wine bars because wine is cool, at the moment... If you listen closely, you'll hear things like "jammy, fruity, currant, leather, herby, spicy" or even "dirt." One time, and I am totally NOT making this up, I tasted a red that reminded me of pencil erasers... Suffice it to say, I didn't have a second sip of THAT... But honestly, when I began my quest for winey knowledge, my vocabulary, and my palate, were pretty much restricted to "yummy" and "not so much..."

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret... Here's the thing about wine... There is no wrong answer... It's all completely personal. If you taste a glass of wine, and you taste cherries, but the next guy tastes pears, you are NOT wrong! Everyone's palate is different. What one person thinks is the best wine on the planet, the next guy will taste and think "meh..." Just like some people like salty and some prefer sweet, different styles and varietals (types of grapes) will appeal to different people. My roommate likes what I refer to as "slap you in the head monster cabs" while I tend to prefer a spicy syrah, or chianti...

Also, price is not an indicator of whether or not the wine will appeal to your particular taste. I've had $6 wine that I thoroughly enjoyed and $95 wine that I would only use to clean car parts... (okay, slight exaggeration, there, but it really was NOT worth the money... thankfully, I didn't get stuck with the bill on that one!) The long and short of it is that you don't need Robert Palmer... or was it Peter Parker... wait, no... Robert Parker, that's it... to tell you what good wine is... He can only tell you what HE thinks good wine is... not the same thing.

My advice to the novice... if you know absolutely nothing about wine, or the different types of grapes, just get out there and start tasting! At the store, pick bottles because you think the label is groovy. When you're out and about, ask your waiter what they recommend. I find they are generallly happy to assist. If they're really on their game, they will ask you what sort of flavors you like. At the very least, they will have been told which wine pairs well with what food you have ordered... Keep track of what you like, and what you don't. After a while, you'll know what you're doing well enough to survive even the scariest restaurant wine list.

So long as you don't start turning up your collar or extending your pinky...

Miss J wears many hats at Neverland Transit Authority's Grand Central Station. And when she's not serving as our random Brakeman (Editor, manager, etc.), or helping refine characters and plots, she's serving as NTA Comics "Ironchuck Wrangler". She is the source of much knowledge and learning.

Don is a fifth degree Moo-Jistu master and expert in the whirling butterknife...

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