Feature photo by kalurah
Wine is intimidating. The way we talk about it most often necessitates not only a familiarity with a foreign language but a shift of our own language.
The wine’s smell becomes a bouquet. The viscosity of wine can be measured in legs, fingers, and tears. And strange chemistry terms such as malolactic fermentation, denaturing, and aromatic compounds find a strange traction in the space of the dinner table. Perhaps most frustrating is that practice doesn’t always make perfect as the treacherous waters of wine drinking can lead to, well, alcoholism. With so much at risk and rewards so great, for those curious and courageous minds, a winemaker dinner offers great opportunity.
To begin, a winemaker dinner is a wine dinner involving the person responsible for making the wine. This sort of dinner should not be confused with its lesser and more ubiquitous sibling, a wine dinner. While enjoyable and educational as well, wine dinners are more likely to offer nothing more than great opportunities to try value priced wines with great food. After all, wine distributors are always trying to push product and everyone wants to make money. With little risk as most restaurants understand basic wine and food pairing, even subpar wine dinners almost always end successfully.
Winemaker dinners, conversely, are by their very nature going to curry more attention for both your brain as well as the chef who has tailored the menu. After all, today’s winemaker is a rare creature deserving such attention for both obvious and not-so-obvious reasons.
America as well as much of Western and really, modern civilization arose out of the agrarian lifestyle. Out of our nomadic roots, we settled down to work the earth. This not only gave us more time to think, it allowed us to deepen our relationship with the soil and the life, death, and nurture of everything growing from it. Today’s farmers are largely removed from such an intimate relationship with the land. Not so with the winemaker as they monitor closely soil and vine and later the juice they produce. They are the high priests, the shamans, the mystics of our agrarian legacy. To break bread with them over their own creation whether white, red, or blush is to make of the dinner table a sanctuary with the sermon amounting to a peculiar creation story one can not only listen to but sip and swirl.
Upcoming winemaker dinners: