Poetry and Wine at Webster’s Fine Stationers Again

Our good friends at Webster’s Fine Stationers had us to pour at their recent poetry reading. If you missed it, you missed some excellent poems by local poets Judith Terzi and Linda Dove. Fortunately, Lori and Scott Webster carry both their books, but it’s still special to hear them read by the poets.

We also had some great wines. And if you were there, here are our notes. Now, as always, this is not to prove we have a better palate than yours – because we don’t. It’s just to coordinate what you taste with what we taste, so that when we say something tastes like peach and you taste raspberry, you know that when we say peach, you’ll taste raspberry.

Dolce Vita Prosecco Brut NV

Type: Slightly tart sparkling white

What makes it special: Well-made and reasonably priced

Plays well with: Snacks, cheeses, finger foods

Most proseccos, which are Italian sparkling wines, tend to be on the sweet side. Not this one. It has a clean nose and very light color. The flavor has some tart fruit and it’s dry enough to make a good palate cleanser before the next bite of party food. The sharpness does back off after a few minutes but the wine does best with food on the plate.

Toque et Clochers Cremant de Limoux NV

Type: Sparkling white

What makes it special: It’s French, but not champagne

Plays well with: Appetizers, nuts, brunch

The nose on this straw colored bubbly has a light hint of oak. The taste is clean, but without the wood. There are good acids and the wine is bone dry. The finish at the back of the palate is somewhat short but it goes so well with food you won’t have time to miss it. 12 percent alcohol makes it easier to get another sip or glass on your way back to the brunch station. Hold the mimosas, please.

Twin Vines Vinho Verde 2010

Type: Off-dry white

What makes it special: White wine from the home of Port

Plays well with: Salads, seafood and Indian summer

Vinho verde means “green wine” or the first wine that is ready to drink when the harvest is over. This generally means the wine has carbon dioxide from the fermentation still inside it making it fizzy. But it is not a sparkling wine in the traditional sense. It needs to be enjoyed early and comes in a regular bottle and a screw cap.

The Twin Vines 2010 Vinho Verde has a fruity nose and a flavor of some citrus, myrhh and acidity from being picked younger and the carbon dioxide fizz.

Crucillon Garnacha 2009

Type: Dry red

What makes it special: A good example of one of Spain’s signature grapes

Plays well with: Meats, grilled vegetables

This imported Spanish red has the ruby color of a good Grenache – as it’s known in the US and France – and a nose of violets and red fruit. The taste has good acids along with the cranberry and sour cherry that makes this a wine that food will make better. There are sufficient tannins to support opening the next bottle in a year or two.

David Krumholtz – Celebrity Wine FAQ

David Krumholtz, courtesy NBC

We have to say, the only good thing about The Playboy Club (which holds the Fall 2011 dubious honor of being the first show cancelled of the new TV season) was seeing David Krumholtz working – better yet, not recognizing him right away. Not because the show sucked, but because it means Krumholtz can really act and create a completely different character than lovable math genius Dr. Charlie Epps, from CBS’ late lamented Numb3rs.

Krumholtz shared with us a problem he has with wine.

“I want to know why I’m allergic to wine,” he told Anne. “I used to drink a lot of red wine. And I went to France, to Paris. And I drank some of the finest wines in the world. Spent way too much money. Got blasted on all these wines every night. Got back to the States and I could not swallow more than a couple sips of American wine without getting sick. Why?”

The reality is, not everyone can drink wine. And when it comes to bad reactions, there could be a lot of different reasons why. And what constitutes sick, in this case? Barfing? Headaches? Sinus misery?

A genuine allergy is when the body’s immune system decides that something is bad, bad, evil, evil and tries to reject it, kind of like it does when a cold virus invades. Reactions will vary – if you swallow something, it can give you hives. If you touch it, you get a rash. If you breathe it, you get all stuffy and/or start sneezing.

But your body can react badly for a lot of reasons, not just an allergy. In Krumholtz’ case, it could have been his body saying enough already after an extended period of indulgence that just happened to coincide with his return to the U.S. from his trip to France. It could have been some of the additives that American wine makers will add to their wines, such as color enzymes and extra tannic acid, that the French don’t. And it could have been a sensitivity to any of a hundred different compounds in wine, triggered by said extended period of indulgence, so that even when one is not over-indulging, one is still sensitive to said compound.

If you find yourself in this position, it’s truly a bummer. Anne, for example, will sometimes get a stuffy nose while drinking wine. Is it her normal weather sensitivity getting an evil boost from the alcohol, or a compound that happens to be in some wines, but not in others? Without doing some extensive research, it’s hard to know.

The thing to do, Mr. Krumholtz, and anyone else, if you still want to drink wine (and it’s understandable if you don’t), is to try different types of wine from different places and see if you can isolate which ones make you sick and which ones don’t. If your reaction was merely your body begging for relief, and it’s been a while since that trip, then you may be able to drink wine again – unless your brain is convinced that wine makes you sick. Then that’s a different problem.

But the bottom line is that you need to respect your body, and if wine makes you sick, then it makes you sick and that’s life.

Savoring a Great Wine Event

[wpg]Out of the cacophany of an exhibition hall, this one featuring a photo op on a surfboard with a wave curling over you, fabulous new cars, and a small, but quiet, hedgehog, it figures the one thing that leapt out at us was the offer of a blind wine tasting.  We were at Savor the Central Coast, a wine and food festival sponsored by Sunset Magazine and highlighting the wineries and restaurants to be found in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo County, in general.

The fair featured the best of the area, including wineries, restaurants, seminars and even a couple backyard gardening displays.

The blind tasting was at the Visit Paso Robles booth and the idea was to highlight the wineries in the area. The idea was to also have some fun and of course, we went right for it. Why? Because blind tastings are a blast.

The idea here was to guess what varietal we were drinking. We came close a couple times, but by the end of the day, we were two for seven. Which should give you an idea just how hard it is to isolate a varietal if you don’t know what it is. The thing is, even if you know what the characteristics of a grape typically are, wines can be made in so many different ways that those characteristics are often either diluted or overshadowed by others. Not to mention the fact, that what one tongue tastes isn’t necessarily the same as what another’s tongue tastes – one of the reasons we try to do our calibration tastings on a regular basis.

The biggest problem we had – besides choosing what wineries to concentrate on – was finding a spit cup. It sounds gross, and indeed, most of these kinds of festivals are geared toward drinking and enjoying as many different wines as possible, as opposed to taking notes for later blog posts. But what we’ve found is that it’s a lot easier to try more wines when you don’t swallow them.

Other highlights included the hedgehog, from the Atascadero Zoo, the lamb tacos – we loved that so many of the restaurants shared the recipes for the goodies they served us – and tasting several wines from Washington State.