Two Bees Wine

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

On a plane back from Philadelphia today, a spunky flight attendant with a crystal bobby pin in her hair and perfume I could detect 3 rows away (oddly, it smelled of cigars when she passed by) escorted a young man of 8, Daniel, down the aisle. He was conducting a poll for school, and she broke the ice for him with unsleeping, headsetless passengers. It was the “Favorite Meat Survey”, and the choices were meatballs, chicken, hot dogs, steak, bacon, sausage, pork, lamb, and meatloaf – a list he recited in one quick breath. He permitted me to choose two: lamb (when the mood is right) and bacon (of course). I wonder about his final tallies.

It started me thinking about my favorite wine (probably because my blog entry was overdue and I was captive and agendaless). If I had to choose, which varietal would I have Daniel record?

I’m inclined to name pinot noir for its soft fruit, flexibility with food, drinkability solo, and for aromas that deliver the same pleasure that Jolly Ranchers did when I was a kid – the more I inhale or taste, the greater the bursts in intensity.

Yet my annoyance at its mass popularity due to Sideways (I liked it before the trend – really!) may suffocate my initial response.

My desire for originality means I’d need to pinpoint a rarer grape. And unfortunately, occasional ones I’ve sampled don’t stick in memory because I can’t pronounce them.

I’d probably choose a wine I can easily appreciate without food – though complementary pairings always surprise me when they’re orchestrated for me. This seems consistent with how I eat: with certain dishes, I strive to fork up all key elements into a single bite – they’d each taste delicious separately, but together the mouthful becomes divine. I tend toward pizza slices with evenly spaced toppings, calculate how to finish off my plate so that the last forkfuls carry representative ingredients, and loosely track M&M colors as I munch to ensure rotation. Alternating back and forth between wine and food can yield equal satisfaction – and might even heighten the individual elements. For instance, I’m not a foie gras fan, but at a celebratory dinner the other night I tried Anthony’s with a minced apple strudel chutney and a Royal Tokaj – a Big Bang effect.

But this philosophy depends on the particular food, making it impossible to choose a favorite wine.

My default answer: champagne or sparkling wine. I can drink it any time. With or without food, any season, morning or night, special excuse or not. It’s interactiveness almost flatters – given the slightest chance, it fights to be unbottled, to rise out of the glass, and its sparkles hypnotize like fire. The awe it inspires from enthusiasts and from those afraid to make it a habit, the patience it commands of vintners, and its link to milestone events further its mystique. It’s like the ficus tree in that sushi place in the mall that blinks with Christmas lights to the beat of the music, or a song by the B-52s – impossible to experience without feeling an inner smile.

And that, Daniel, is my final answer.


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