so you want to be a sommelier?
turning wine into words (and pictures).
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Remache Reminisce - from wd 2/25/2010
Eddie Remache was my college roommate. Eddie was a confident guy. And a Counter. He used to count the looks he would get from female passersby. As in "1
that girl just looked at me
that lady just glanced at me
she is pretending not to look at me
." We would walk down the street and Eddie would be counting along "One, two, three, four..." as he made his tally. I would be talking about Jackson Pollock or Nietzsche (I used to talk a lot about Nietzsche) or some movie I had just seen, and Eddie would half pretend to listen. Those kind of concerns were of little consquence to Eddie. The
is so funny! "Five." Keep the ice cubes cold, I love it! "Six." Vince Vaughan is a pale dude, though. "Seven and Eight!"
Eddie wasn't interested in movies. Eddie was interested in second looks, glances back. It wasn't like the guy ever pursued any of these leads. Dude had a girlfriend. And half the time I think he was throwing in extra numbers just to needle me, because he knew I didn't get too many looks. One time I was like "Hey Eddie, that girl was just staring at me" and he said well, you know, it could be because you're goofy looking. Eddie was a nice guy like that. But I think a lot now about how Eddie used to be, because he was interested in interest. Hesitant, furitive, sidelong, up and down second looks.
I realize now that this is mostly kid's stuff. Kids are always checking each other out. The older you get, the more the blinders go on. You mostly keep to yourself in the hopes that you will be bothered less as a result. It's too bad, the way folks become bored with a world around them. So it goes.
But I like to think about Eddie and his second looks. Because I like to take second looks myself. Deep inhale, long gazes back at a something. These days it is usually wine. After all, I now have a girlfriend myself. I leave the flirty eyes bit to other dudes. Mostly I gaze back over wines. It is amazing how little we really have to say about the wines that we have enjoyed. Sometimes I think we don't know them at all, that we have only our own interest as an explanation of their merit. The why or what for of them is usually a mystery. It is like somebody said of geniuses: their uncles and neighbors know nothing about them. Promixity alone doesn't bring an understanding of subjects like terroir or vine biology, or fermentation equations.
Flaws I know. Cooked, corked, oversulphured, overoaked. If it makes different wines taste the same, then I can pick it out and tell you the trouble. Because that is what a flaw is: it makes individual wines taste the same, it chases away, covers up, renders mute and makes shy the difference. Shadows on a dark pavement.
But a great wine, an articulate wine, a layered wine: well, I don't have too much to say about it. Why try to talk over it anyway? But I do love to have a look. A sniff, an inhale, a tight swirl and tilt. I love to examine what we have here, something special. And I look to go back and think about it in new ways.
Going back is key. Taking a second look, and listening to the wine, instead of the talk. I sell a lot of wines from Italy. Each time we open a bottle of something we serve by the glass, somebody on the staff tastes it, and makes sure it isn't corked before it goes out on the floor. A lot of times that person is me. Do you know how much an Italian white wine from the Campania changes over the course of 6 months? 9 months? A lot. Usually that wine is drinking at its best right about the time it is sold out from the distributor. About 9 months in to the country. That is when the layers are there, when the precision has started to show, when the texture starts to curve. Those are the good times.
Labels lie. They make you think you are tasting what you tasted before. Maybe. Usually not. There is difference. Often I think labels should say 2008 Producer's Greco di Tufo -1. -1. And then -2, and -3. Because it isn't the same bottle, and there should be some small notation to remind you of that. The message inside will be different today, the live show without the recording. But we do what we can to take another look, and to understand, and we assume change from a starting point. We create our own thread.
Mostly I'm startled by how little I know about wine. Really not much at all. But I see chances to engage with what has been wrought, and I find myself returning to favorites like old friends. What will happen on this day with this bottle? I like to take a second look. Three. Four.
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