Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top Ten of 2011....#9 Holiday Wine Tasting Party

The best thing about the holidays is the free pass to get hammered and pass out on the carpet.  Wait, you don't get that?  But you must serve alcohol, and plenty of it, so maybe thinking while you're drinking is a measured way to steadily increase the buzz while maintaining awareness.  I help my guests (and myself) to remain alert by serving several different wines and asking everyone to join in a tasting.  'Tasting' sounds a lot classier than 'swigging', and everyone seems to get into the spirit of the game.  So instead of twelve bottles of the same old thing, I buy a case of different bottles, and make sure everyone gets a taste of each, and I get a comment about each wine.  Just tell them it's for a school project.

Starting with the bubbly, the favorite this year was Albrecht's Rose.  It is a Cremant from Alsace, which means they use the Champagne method but are not from Champagne.  Translation?  French, but cheap.  About $16, and they also do a Blanc de Blancs, which is a little less festive, but also a little crispier.  You will need at least two bottles anyway, so at these prices, why not buy both for New Year's Eve and 'compare'?  Get the picture?

The three wines that stood out the most, i.e., that anyone remembered, were a Malbec, a Chianti, and a Bourdeaux.  Starting from #3, from the Baron de Rothschild Collection, from the grand year of 2009, a 'special reserve' that started the evening but still left an impression after all the wine (and guests) was drunk.  An earthy taste, that opened up (got better) as it got some air, and paired well with some Marlboro Lights.  And some beer nuts. Classy crowd.

At #2, an Argentinian Malbec from Rutini, that we all agreed would go best with a steak (when I say 'all agreed', I mean that is what I thought, and then I belligerently badgered everyone until they all just agreed with me to shut me up-happens more than you would think.  I mean, everyone knows I'm a pussycat.  I answer politely when someone asks directions to the White House, and even demonstrate to tourists how to pluck their Metro card from the slot when they go through the 'handicap' turnstile-Just pull it out where you shoved it in!  Now walk through.  Walk, dammit!  Jeez, some of us have jobs to get to.  And hold on to your snotty kid.  But I digest.)  The Malbec was good, as I was saying, a real meaty food wine but also went down nice with some pumpkin pie and some cake from the neighbor (who happens to be from Argentina-coincidence?  Perhaps...)

Tops was an awesome Chianti Classico that everyone loved (don't get me started).  'La Vendemmia' from Dievole (2007-I only mention the years, by the way, to annoy people-don't worry, no one knows what they mean).  Classico means it is better than regular Chianti, and really worth the step up in price-just a few dollars more.  The wine is made mostly from Sangiovese, a grape that the Italians have made love to insistently for years, until it has become their mistress.  Not literally, of course.  This wine was drunk with dinner, which consisted of cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, pork loin, and a classic jello treat.  Classed up the place to no end, and started us all on the 'classico' family story-telling that a few bottles of good wine can only help.

For example, there was the time this past October that my brother and I drove up to New York to see our mother, Minnie, for her birthday.  We got stuck in traffic and arrived about 1:30AM.  Luckily my brother had brought several bottles of wine, but of course my mom had no corkscrew.  "You brought wine but no corkscrew?" I shrieked.  "I thought Minnie would have a corkscrew," he cried. " No one named Minnie has a corkscrew!" I replied, and began to sob.  Stuck on Long Island in the middle of the night...sober?  We both sobbed.  Then we steeled ourselves, and headed into the finished basement where our father's ancient workbench held all manner of tools.  This is what we found (pictured below), and after we got the bottle open with just a minimum of spillage onto the floor (it mostly ended up, miraculously, on our shirts), we toasted to family, and to The Mothers of Invention, as we slammed down that first, satisfying, jelly-glass full of wine.  A perfect holiday story, and we also learned something important, kids-how to open a wine bottle with a hatchet.  Cheers!

Hatchet and mysterious drill/boring tool...

Ooh look, bras are on sale...