I’m Liking What Everyone Else is Liking – Some Silver Oak Love

One of the biggest questions that I get asked, as a wine professional, is my opinion on the wines that have secured their feet in the sand as “wine fan” favorites. I am here to admit that I do not regularly drink Sassicaia, Tignanello, Penfolds Grange (that may be a lie), Caymus – you get it  – the icons that are thought of to be the definition of what is good, great, and expensive. Why don’t I indulge in a wine that is deemed worthy by your creepy neighbor that happens to take on “wine guy” status in your tribe? He is the guy that created the Saturday night “Let’s drink a lot of expensive wine” dinner parties you are slightly scared to attend for the chance you may look stupid.  I’m cheap – that’s the honest reason I don’t hang with that guy. I am also inquisitive and desire that experience of not knowing. What can my level of involvement be if you are already telling me it has to be good? And, by the way, thanks for not giving me an option…

That last statement was a little bitchy, but I get offended when the status of a wine is more important than the end product. Let me fall in love on my own time.

And just like a child’s thrill of Santa, I do get a rush when asked to go to a fancy wine dinner. What is fancy to me? Yeah, the wine counts – main component here. However, there are few times I can stop,  be part of the scene, ENJOY a five course meal, and become a participant in something special. A wine and chef can create all the magic possible – but it’s the vibe, the electricity of the landscape, and the arena the crowd constructs with their opinions, their laughter, and the ohs and ahs that come from filling your belly and palate with abundant flavors.

Thanks Fascino Restaurant http://www.fascinorestaurant.com and Silver Oak https://www.silveroak.com for hosting a night full of food and wine greatness, that really happens every so often. It takes skill, of course, to produce a successful wine and food pairing. However, it also takes thoughtfulness, precision, imagination, cleverness; being obvious is easy, but being creative is memorable. 

Every course – yes, every course – was memorable. Is it horrible to say that one of my favorites was the Seared Yellow Fin Tuna paired with Twomey Cellars Pinot Noir? (Twomey being from the Silver Oak family tree) Obviously California in nature, yet balanced with a pretty earthiness and rounded fruit paired well with the eggplant caponata under the fish.

When the “star” (and I’m being obvious, because all the wines were great) of the evening arrived – the Alexander and Napa Cabs – the crowd began to buzz. Was this what they were waiting for? Was this the only reason they put up with Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot as mistresses before the master? If so, shame on you. But, with a swish of the bottle from the ever so elusive server, we got to compare the two Cabs. Wine and food pairing champion – the Alexander Valley. More acidity was present, the concentration of fruit played with a lingering finish, and a spice was present; important trigger to the short rib braising jus surrounding my sexy polenta. The Napa Cab was typical (not a jab, more of a “definition”) Napa Cab with a life span. You could wear this wine like a fur coat; warming, alluring, silky and pressing on the palate. Thank GOODNESS for the chocolate fudge cake and bravo for that decision. Even though it kept me up all night, it was worth it.

Am I a “sell out” for indulging in the crowd favorite – absolutely not. Bravo to Silver Oak for continuing status in the wine world. How much good juice, and new juice, is out there? Here is an example of a recipe for success, a passion to make something – year after year – that works. I applaud you Silver Oak, and will continue this lovely journey with you. And Ryan DePersio of Fascino – please be my best friend. Your culinary vision is now on my stalking list.

And what the hell, throw in Stags’ Leap Winery Cab as a ringer at the end of the night. It was cold, I was contemplating on becoming an Uber driver, all during the buzz of “save the world” conversations – just needed to continue…

Advertisements

The Juggling Of Friendship – Can’t We Just Drink A Glass Of Tempranillo?

Lately I’ve been picking up a few bottles of wine just on a whim. I have some design in my head on area of production, grape varietal…but that is really it. This has stirred an idea in my head about wine and friendship; what is attracting me?

Like my wine choices, my friendships usually begin on a whim. Should we say “organically” so we can all agree on a term -it’s all by chance in my life. Individuals waft in, make whatever impression is necessary or needed at the time, and then usually waft out. Is this because I am searching for what feeds me, or can support my nature? Am I drawn to the immediacy of liaisons, or am I scared of how deep it can get? Who can say where my head is at, but something weird is happening. No one seems to stick.

There are A LOT of wonderful people out there, just like there are A LOT of great wine bottles out there.  And like the flow of life, we all want something more than what the other can offer. I admire the souls that know themselves, and can tell me how communication should happen between us. You know those people – like my instagram post, call me every other day, text me in the morning, meet me for a drink but just on Thursdays – that’s a lot of emotional organization. Is there something wrong with my theory of the “whim”? Can two or three or five people agree that we are the tribe, and can that be enough?

The other part is the work. I don’t do the work, but go along with the work. What does that mean – I’ll GO to the dinner, but never organize it. I feel bad about this, but I think it has become my role. Now you are thinking “Should I become friends with Susan and is it worth it?” – I gotta tell you, I commit. (and if you are valuing “worth” and a relationship – let’s ponder that) I will pick you up, bring all the wine, listen to your stories, cry when you’ve told me how you feel about me, and order your meal. I know I am worth it – it’s just a little bit of a Susan journey for you to know that too.

And women friendships are another thing – whoa, that is a toughie. But the two women you may be seeing in pictures throughout this blog are dialed in. There are so many things to say about these women, and so many directions to go in. They have cemented themselves into my stream of wanting, needing, doing and dreaming. I also LOVE showing them the wine world. Even though they tell me they will drink what I put in their glass, they have opinions and things to say.  And I want to hear it! – and maybe exploit it for the blog…

What did we drink at Toros Restaurant in Montclair? –

  • The Wine; Vina El Aguila, “Embocadero”
  • Area of Production: Ribera Del Duero, Spain
  • Grape Varietal: In theory, and through recent reviews of this wine, the grape is Tempranillo. Now, I kind of believe this. It is the obvious, being Tempranillo is the Holy Grail of Spanish wines, however, I can taste a few more things making up this blend. By law in the area, 75% MUST be Tempranillo, where most are 100%. There were no noticeable aging requirements on this wine, which leads me to believe this was an entry level wine – and I don’t hate that. Did I taste Tempranillo’s signature dried fig, cooked raspberries, or smokey fireplace love like I usually do?  Sure – but the roundness and sweeter fruit profile lends me to believe just maybe there was something else thrown into the stew.
  • Why Tempranillo for my girls? – A few reasons – I’m obsessed with Spanish wine lately.  Just obsessed. Another reason was the weather – the bite of winter has begun in New Jersey, and I am embracing it. I wanted something a little more spicy, warming, comforting, reassuring, and nostalgic. Yes, nostalgic. This is the first grape I really got to “know” back in the day, and it brings on some great memories. I also chose this amazing Kabab house to dine at – what better pairing than grilled meats with this grape, which could really go with just about anything. I also thought I was going to get much more extraction than I did because of the fact it was from Ribera Del Duero, but I’m over it. Sometimes we don’t get the expected, and can live with that.
  • What did my girls think? – Honestly, we were so into the meat fest going on rather than chatting about the complexities in the wine. We started with a bit of chardonnay, so our palates were already saturated with so many flavors – between the wine and the food choices. I am noticing their questions are changing – they are more interested in where the wine is coming from, what exactly is in the bottle, and WHY I chose to bring it that evening. I would love to get more into the why. I think this is one of the biggest hurdles in the shopping for wine consumers deal with. How can we educate, in a better method, what emotional choices are being made? Regardless, we gave this wine a 3 out of 5 – good fruit, modestly priced ( I picked it up for around 13-15 dollars), and completely matched the ambience and evening.

Choices in wine, people, restaurants, family, spouses, kids – things I think about, or have thought about, and have stopped thinking about on purpose. Yes, on purpose. Do we share a moment, and do you talk about “our moment” with other people when I am not around? Am I invited because it is the right thing to do, or is it just what should be done? Is being alone the better choice? They say you only have a handful of friends – but what if that handful gets juggled?  What if you are the piece that doesn’t really fit anymore? I’m celebrating ME everyday, and I hope you do too. But, how does this party play out?