I have been away too long, I will try to be more diligent but I accept that a writer with a readership should write more often. I can only apologize, offer a brief apology, and accept the censure I deserve.
Alternately, considering the relative meaningless of censure, how about I just say that life happened, I have been very busy, time has been short, but I will make posting at least once a week a priority.
Lately instead of writing, I have been traveling, working, looking for new work, helping my son with his homework, guiding him back from the precipice of a bad grade toward a good GPA, helping his mother with her college writing, taking my son to practices and games for the three different basketball teams he plays on, shopping, cooking, doing laundry, staying abreast of new rulings for a game I judge, running as fast as I can but uncertain of my progress.
Writing makes me happy. It allows moments of reflection, consideration, ordering and reordering my thoughts. It is a welcome therapy. Writing about wine allows me to share my knowledge with others who didn’t grow up surrounded by vineyards and winemaking, who haven’t tasted thousands of bottles, who don’t drink wine with meals but might like to and just need someone to help them cut through the bullshit and snobbery that surrounds wine, wine marketing, and wine writing.
I am happier when I write, and that happiness makes the rest of the things in my life better. Writing is like spice. Without salt, many foods taste bland; with salt, desserts taste sweeter and savory dishes taste more delicious.
Wine is usually made from grapes. Other ingredients can include water, yeast, egg whites, ash, sugar, sulfites, bacteria, and a host of other additives. It is up to the winery owner and the winemaker to look at the grapes from each harvest and figure out what ingredients are needed, and in what measure, to make the best possible wine for that vintage.
The grapes themselves are not the same year to year, or vineyard to vineyard. The French have a word, Terroir, to describe the impact of place and time on a grape and the wine that grape can yield. The soil, slope, vine orientation to the sun, weather, and so much more are imprinted on each grape. Cabernet Sauvignon grown on Howell Mountain in Napa County tastes different than Cabernet Sauvignon would taste made from grapes grown in Dallas Texas. Terroir matters. Consumers search out Napa Cabs, Russian River Valley Pinots and Dry Creek Valley Zins for a reason; terroir.
On a recent trip to Denver, I wrote elsewhere about the great food scene I enjoy with each and every visit to that city. Specifically, I raved about the clean flavors at Panzano on 17th, a great Italian restaurant. Best dish was scallops on a broccoli and speck risotto with a nage of basil, leak, shallot, butter and wine. The nage was a light, green sauce of incredible flavor, and none was left on my plate but soaked up in bread every drop was enjoyed. I was so moved by this simple, yet unbelievably delicious, sauce that our waiter brought me the recipe. Few ingredients, but each high quality and essential to the delicious whole.
A friend, Leif, added his observation that in his travels to different states and countries, his cooking for others never quite tastes the same as it did when he was back in Sonoma County. Leif also shared that the garden grown veggies from his Wisconsin home tastes different than what he grew up with back home in California.
I had never thought about Terroir outside of wine, but of course the phenomenon would apply to any food grown. We are blessed in northern California with tasty veggies, fruits, beast, fowl, crustacean, bivalve and fish.
In my travels to Wisconsin, I met some of America’s nicest people. Sadly, Leif is right; some of the most muted flavor meals I have ever eaten have come from Wisconsin. That said, I have tasted delicious fresh cranberries from Warrens and apples from Bayfield in Wisconsin, and the best cheese curds I ever ate were served at CWA, Central Wisconsin’s airport, at the bar, with a simple marinara.
My son is 13 years old and at just a smidge over 6 feet tall is his middle school basketball team’s starting center, but he is not a star. Charlie is just one of five people on the court at a time, and each needs rest and there are 13 players on the team, allowing frequent substitutions. Each person on the team has unique talent. One boy is a great ball handler, another has athletic ball stealing moves, there are runners, passers, three point specialists, rebounders; it is together that they shine. The whole better for the perfect blend of ingredients.
I started with an apology for not writing more often, finished in the role of proud papa writing about my son, and shared some wine and food info in between. Another nicely balanced stew of ingredients; I hope I got the seasoning right.