Monday, September 14, 2009

A Tale of Two Tastings

I have once heard of wine being described as "Art that only reaches its full potential by being destroyed". I somewhat agree with this. Wine in a bottle, just sitting there (assuming that it has been aged properly) doesn't do anybody any good. It only reaches its potential when someone opens the bottle, pours it out, and drinks it. This weekend, I saw this in action at two very different venues. I have two different friends (lets call them E and M) that invited me to two different styles of events that had similar outcomes.

The first event was one that E invited me to several weeks ago. It was a celebration of his birthday, as well as for him taking his third round of boards as a physician. He invited several serious wine folks to a blind tasting- they covered 15 bottles in foil, and tasted through them. There were offical note-taking sheets, scoring, and even a winner was declared. Unfortunately, I arrived late and just got to drool over the boneyard of empty bottles that I didn't get to try. The wines that were opened ranged from good California Cabs to a 100 point Chateauneuf.

The second event was definitely last minute. I got a text at about 6:30 Sunday night, saying that M had gotten ahold of a 6 Liter bottle of 1990 Bryant Family Cabernet. I don't know if this means anything to you, but Bryant is a highly collectible, sought after, very expensive wine from California. The current offerings go for about $500/regular sized bottle. Add in the fact that their first release to the public was in 1991 (this bottle was made the year before, and only available through the family that owns the winery), and you have an extremely valuable bottle. I heard guesses from people "in the know" that put the bottle between $3k and $10k at the right auction. Did M have formal tasting notes, etc? Nope. He opened it at a bar, poured it into Falstaff pitchers, and started calling friends to come and share the experience.

It was really cool to see that the result of both events was the same- people with different occupations, backgrounds, ethnicities, and income levels all were sitting around chatting, laughing, and having a good time. E's event was planned, catered, and thought about weeks in advance. M's group came together in two hours via texting and word-of-mouth. E's group was full of doctors, lawyers, rich folks, and wine snobs, with some restaurant folks sprinkled in. M's group was mainly waitstaff from local restaurants and bars. E's group followed the tasting with bottles of 2005 Flor de Pingus. M's group followed the tasting with shots of Grand-Ma and loads of whiskey. E's group didn't smoke, M's did.

As different as the groups were, there was an amazing similarity of discussions- How much people don't like their jobs, new and old restaurants, health care reform, and tattoos were talked about at BOTH locations! The other common thread was laughter. Wine causes this, which makes me happy. Just because it is "bottled poetry" doesn't mean that it has to be serious. It is made for people to enjoy, and these people did.

Have a great week, folks. My recommendation today is the 2006 Tikal Patriota. It's a blend of Bonarda and Malbec from Argentina. You can get it at most local retailers, and I know its carried at Niche, Sidney St. Cafe, and by the glass at 33.


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