Friday, July 11, 2008

A taste for the finer things...

"I was in love with a beautiful blonde once. She drove me to drink; that's the one thing I'm indebted to her for."
-W. C. Fields in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break

Some of the best things in life require 'an acquired taste' to truly enjoy and appreciate. Amongst these things I would count olives, strong cheeses, coffee and wine. I think it takes patience and persistance to learn to love these things. But once you begin to enjoy them, you can begin to feel passionate about them.

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I appreciate food and everything that combines to create a complete dining experience. Eating is not just about nourishment for me. It's about the complimentary tastes, the atmosphere, the company, the conversation...and the time to value each of these components. Wolfing down a burger and fries on the go just does not satisfy me.

The French have mastered this idea of appreciating the quality of what you are eating and drinking, savouring each bite so that you feel satisfied with smaller amounts. Yes, they eat rich foods, high in fat and calories but they are aware of what they are eating and they view it as an experience rather than an attempt to eat as much as possible, as quickly as possible, for as cheap as possible.

French Women Don't Get Fat; $7.50

Wander the picturesque streets of villages in France, hillside towns in Tuscany, or the oceanside towns in Spain and you will find people socializing at outdoor cafes, laughing and talking over a glass (or two) of wine at lunch time, and savoring each bite of the food they eat.

You don't have to leave the country to live this way--just take a cue from how other people in different parts of the world choose quality over quantity, Brie instead of Velveeta, and a simple sandwich in the park rather than a Super Size burger in the car.

Appreciate the quality and chemistry of a good wine with each sip rather than drinking "whatever's strongest" just to lose your senses. Your senses are what make life worth living! Smell, taste, sight, sound...use them all to enjoy your next wining and dining experience.

"Sparkling Muscatel. One of the finest wines of Idaho."
-Waiter in The Muppet Movie(1979)

Now, I'm not a complete wine snob but I don't think Idaho has quite mastered the art of winemaking--yet. But one state in America that has the perfect conditions for an amazing bottle of wine is California. My husband and I both enjoy visiting wine country and some of our best memories are of exploring wineries together all over the world. We are blessed to have one of the best wine-making areas right here in our own country. We recently travelled to Napa Valley and Sonoma to taste the region's varieties. It amazes me how each year's success is so unpredictable and dependent upon the weather, each bottle of wine is unique, and the slightest elements in the production and storing process effect each glass. Such a time-consuming labour of love, but so worth the efforts--if you can learn to appreciate them.

Some of our California favorites:

Bartholomew Park Winery
They only sell wine directly from their vineyard. You can't buy this in stores. It's such a great find and definitely one of our favorite stops. Their 2005 estate vineyard red zinfandel is amazing!

Cline Winery

Try their Ancient Vines wines. We especially liked the 2006 Ancient Vines Mourvedre.

Simi Winery
Simi Reserve Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend that is dark and bold but so, so good.

If you are interested in learning about wine, pairing food with wine, traveling to taste wine, etc. I recommend a subscription to Wine Spectator magazine. You don't need to be an expert or even a passionate wine drinker to enjoy reading about the process, the places, and the people involved in the art of wine making.
Subscribe at for 16 issues/1 year for $49.95 and get tips on the top 100 wines of the year, the best wines at affordable prices and lists of restaurants with exceptional wine lists.

1 comment:

anna said...

You guys should check out Pashal winery in southern oregon. The owners are such wonderful people and the wine is delicious! Your blog made me hungry for cheese!