Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Wine By Any Other Name...

...is still a wine, no? Sorry, sometimes I can't come up with interesting or catchy titles ("Does she ever?" you ask with raised eyebrow). But today did turn out to be a 'wine day' of sorts.

At lunchtime at work today--my co-workers and I all eat together and generally have a grand time conversating and chowing down--we somehow ended up on the topic of good cheese, and then, inevitably, good wine. D. asked what our favorite cheeses of the moment are. "Ah," I thought, "a question made for me!" I replied that lately I prefer sheep's milk cheeses, like pecorino toscano or romano, which have distinctly different flavors but are both made of sheep's milk (I believe that's what 'pecorino' denotes in Italian). C. said she loves gouda, while D. professed a fancy for gruyere.

And then the conversation turned to wine, and E. talked about V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, which always seems to host a disproportionate number of people of color, making it one of my favorite spots in the Napa Valley. And despite the fact that E. says that more snobbish wine-lovers think of V. Sattui as uncouth and low-class, I've had some great wine-tasting experiences there. Like the time an older man behind the tasting counter said that he liked the winery's Sauvignon Blanc to two young women, who asked him why he liked it. I guess they thought he'd wax philosophical about hints of kiwi and notes of grassy lime in the wine, but he simply shrugged in response and said, 'I just like it!"

As part of our wine conversation at lunch today, I also talked about my birthday dinner at Absinthe Brasserie in Hayes Valley, where H. treated me to the best dinner out that I've ever had (really, I'm not exaggerating). We asked the sommelier to recommend something from Absinthe's extensive wine list (it was something like 8 pages long and divided by region, I think). H. had ordered the coq au vin (super-delicious) and I had ordered the special dungeness crab (equally super-delicious) so the sommelier recommended a Pinot Gris (sorry wine-snobs, I don't remember the name of the winemaker or the year--my bad!) from Alsace, France, which is renowned for this varietal. Well, the bottle was forty bucks, more than I've ever spent on a bottle of wine, but I said, 'What the hell, I'm never gonna turn 33 again!" and we ordered it.

Oh, God. I don't think I'd ever really known what it tasted like to have such a well-matched wine and food combination. It was fuckin' delicious. I'm not very good about saying what flavor-notes a wine brings forth (pear? melon? lemongrass? Isn't wine made out of grapes?), but I can say that every dollar that we spent that night was well worth it. And although I can't afford to buy any wine that costs more than $15 a bottle max on a regular basis, it's good to know that I can experience gastronomic nirvana again sometime in the near future. I do live in San Francisco, after all, which I've read has more restaurants per capita than any city in the world except Paris.

Now, if you want to be a real wine connoisseur you should woo your way into a viticultural (or is it oenophilic?) apprenticeship with Miz Chatty, but if you're just a lay person like me you might learn something from Tatang as well. His SO, Gura, accompanied him on a wine tasting trek in the Amador Valley, and T. had some things to say, let me tell you! Gura seemed to have a more mellow approach to wine tasting. I'd have to say my own wine-tasting attitudes fall somewhere in between.

And tonite, I treated myself to a couple glasses of a decent pinot noir that H. bought a couple weeks ago. We sipped it during a dinner of homemade pasta with tomato and onion sauce and some roasted asparagus (unfortunately, I don't think the wine went well with the asparagus; I noticed an icky alcoholic scent in my glass after I'd just eaten the asparagus, and the wine tasted bitter and .

I spent a few minutes after dinner perusing a handy little web site, EatDrinkDine.com, which seems somewhat simplistic but is still helpful for wine novices like myself. I don't think I'll become a real connoisseur anytime soon, but I stlll enjoy a good quaff of liquid gold now and then. A small, simple, but blessed pleasure in this big, crazy world.

Drink well and be happy,


Elena said...

I loved your wine blog! I linked to it through Max Toth's (I'm a friend and ex-coworker of his), and I felt compelled to respond, because as a woman of color, I feel VERY much at home at V. Sattui- it also feels totally mobbed up, which I also strangely love.
Just thought I'd reply!

Rona Fernandez said...

Thanks Elena for visiting and commenting! i'm glad another. v. sattui-lover has stepped out into the light. ;-) Peace, Rona

bino said...

rona girl,

whazzup, eh? i'm here in nyc. remember when we went salsa dancing in DC? do you? do i sound bading (bakla) to you? do i?

and remember the time you and minda stormed in to YR (work), and told the bosses off? i do. that was a great moment of pinay power.

o sige na. we just saw the gates for my birthday. i had fun.

wilma b. consul

Rona Fernandez said...

Eh, bino/wilma-
you get around, don't you, mz. consul? long time no see. send me an email address so we can connect.
hope you're having fun in NYC. gates? like bill gates?

of course i remember salsa in DC and acting up a YR. classic moments!