Photogallery rendered here.
A talented wine writer, the late Paul Gillette, once observed, “No newspaper publishes a weekly column about orange juice or shoes or automobile tire. Why wine?”
“Because,” he went on to suggest, “It is not merely a food or refreshment. Given the right combination of grapes, weather, winemaker, aging and other factors, it can be a work of art as complex as a symphony, painting or novel – and can be, to those who have learned what to look for in it, as gratifying as any of these other art forms are to people who have learned to appreciate them.”
To me this definition of wine enjoyment is extremely well put. By learning to appreciate wines, Paul did not mean that one needs a degree in winemaking or viticulture to enjoy a glass of red wine with one’s steak, but rather that wine appreciation increases logarithmically in proportion to wine knowledge. The same can be said about modern art, for example. Once understood, its enjoyment increases dramatically. Wine is also an art form that with each level of understanding gained returns enjoyment tenfold.
As you might imagine, I grew up with wine. I don’t remember my first sip, probably I was too young, but I’m sure I must have liked it because I’ve been drinking it ever since. With the years I became fascinated not only by the wines my family creates, but by the diverse spectrum representing wines of the world.
As must have occurred when my grandfather Samuele passed on wine knowledge to my father August, which he in turn gave to me, my personal interest grew to a love of fine wine. I remember somewhere along the line being struck suddenly by the fact that I was beginning to actually get a considerable grasp of the extraordinary intricacies I was tasting in wines. I was thrilled, and looked forward with tremendous anticipation to the regular tastings wherein we compared our own wines with the finest from Italy, France, Australia, or other wine-producing countries. I know my brother Don, has had the same thrill of knowledge, and experienced the excitement and pride when in tasting we determine that one of our wines is at least the equal of some noble vintage from abroad.
Of course such tastings are more clinical in nature and any enjoyment in that circumstance probably comes more from exercising our technical ability than from the wine. But winemakers wear two hats, so to speak: technically tasting wine, and simply drinking it with meals. In the latter case we don’t try to take a wine apart as we do during a formal tasting, we just enjoy it for what it is and appreciate how well the food accompaniment fits the wine. Non-winemakers, of course, do that the other way around…appreciating how well the wine goes with the food.
Simplistic though it may sound, “I THINK THE MOST FUNAMENTAL THING IN FULLY ENJOYING WINE IS TO DRINK THE WINES YOU YOURSELF LIKE.” Many people drink a wine because they have read it is supposed to be good, or because a knowledgeable friend thinks it good. The point is, no matter how good the wine might be, if it is not to your own taste it cannot be fully enjoyed. So take the rule of thumb, “white wine with fish, and red wine with meat.” If you don’t particularly care for all red wines, then drink white wine with your steak. The most important thing is to ENJOY what you are drinking.
My dad used to drink red wine with everything. Sometimes he would have a Barbera, but usually it was a Zinfandel because, he said, “I will never tire of it. To me it’s like bread and butter. It goes perfectly with every meal. Besides, it’s my favorite wine.” Dad had quite an extensive personal cellar with many very old wines: Cabernet Sauvignons going back 30-40 years that he rarely touched. Since his cellar was sufficient that he could have been drinking many rare vintages each week, I asked him once why he seldom opened those great bottles. “Who wants to eat filet mignon every day?” he said. Dad drank what he liked and truly enjoyed his wine. So did my Nonno, Samuele. He was another who always drank red wine. Dad said that only twice could he remember seeing Nonno drink white wine. Wine was such a part of life for my Bisnonno, Lorenzo, that it the wine was not on the table he wouldn’t sit down to eat. For him, having wine to enjoy with his meal was just as important as a plate or a fork.
I dare say that to many my next comment on wine enjoyment will sound sacrilegious, but here in our wine country on hot summer days we sometimes quench our thirst with wine served over ice or with soda or fruit. You see we just enjoy wine: sometimes ice-cold, sometimes at cellar or room temperature. We hold no hard and fast rules on how and with what to serve which wine. We enjoy it in the manner that for a specific occasion seems best to us. I sincerely hope you do too. So forget the rules, and be your own wine expert. DRINK THE WINE YOU LIKE WHEN YOU LIKE IT. This is how to enjoy wine. And the more you enjoy it, the more you will discover its fascinating intricacies, some of which I try to explain in these blogs, because I hope that through increased understanding I can help to increase your wine enjoyment.
Introducing 2017 Samuele’s Quarry Red Blend
I am highly pleased to see how well this wine has matured in the bottle. After 15 months, it has become anything but an elegant wine. Instead, it shows off its style like an on-western gun fighter. It can mix with the strongest and still not have its hat fly off when the going gets strong. This is truly a cowboy wine.
Against a background of velvety Zinfandel fruit it can stand up to the tangiest foods still presenting you with high notes of spicy Barbera, hints of black pepper and deep cherry tones from the Petite Sirah. With enough acidity to take the edge off the spiciest foods, this wine will not back down from the most flavorful dishes – Buffalo Wings, Chorizo, Kung Pao; and highly spiced rubbed red meats.
This is our third vintage of Samuele's Quarry. The prior two vintages sold out quickly and received numerous accolades. The Monks at the monastery would be proud to call this with their own and the Quarry Men who worked with Samuele would say, “Job well done!”
This wine is available for $15.00/bottle on our website at www.lachertosawines.com. We're currently updating the website for Samuele's Quarry. Check there in a few weeks to learn more about my Nonno, Samuele and the quarry industry in early Sonoma. www.samuelesquarry.com
Yippee ki yay!
P.S. What do you think of the picture of my brother, Don and me in 1975?