Sunday, June 14, 2009

Selecting Wine for Myself Alone

On Saturday afternoon during what must have been the 19th overcast and rainy day in a row in Brooklyn, good friends invited us to go to an opening at an art gallery and then to dinner in my old neighborhood, Prospect Heights. Since there was no chance of getting a babysitter on short notice, only one of us could go out. It's important to be spontaneous and to accept these kind of invitations, even if one of us has to stay home with the kids. We decided that BrooklynLady would go. So I was home on a Saturday night, our two sleeping kids in the other room.

Earlier that morning at the farmer's market I bought two richly purple pieces of tuna, a fish I almost never buy. Tuna is ubiquitous in restaurants - tuna tartare, tuna steaks, tuna burgers, tuna this, and tuna that. It seems so overdone. But the tune looked beautiful and I had already seen some baby bok choy making its debut appearance of the summer, so I allowed dinner to select itself for me.

And now, what wine to drink with a simply prepared rare tuna steak and baby bok choy tossed in the wok with slivers of green garlic? It's strange how picking wine for myself is so different from picking wine when you dine with others. Should I open something special and savor it greedily, not having to share it with anyone? I looked through our little cellar, considered a fancy Chablis, flirted with a great bottle of Champagne, and toyed with the idea of an Equipo Navazos Sherry. But a great bottle of wine by myself can be like the sound of one hand clapping.

It is a delicious indulgence to open a great bottle of wine for yourself and yourself alone. But in the end, part of what makes a great bottle of wine so special is experiencing it with someone else, talking about it, seeing their pleasure in drinking it. So instead of opening something glorious, what I most certainly would have done if BrooklynLady and/or guests were with me, I opened a bottle of the more humble 2007 Clos Roche Blanche Touraine Sauvignon #2, $15, Louis/Dressner Selections. I've had great Clos Roche Blanche bottles, and so-so bottles, and this one was great, with a satisfying roundness, finely toned minerality, great texture, snappy acidity, and lovely herbal aromas and flavors. When this wine is good, it's less about Sauvignon Blanc and more about the hills outside of Tours. It was a kind and generous companion to my seared Tuna steaks with baby bok choy.

And in the end, a nice dinner, a humble and lovely bottle of wine, and a few hours of alone time - something that can be very hard to come by with two small kids - that's one of many recipes for a great Saturday evening.


Unknown said...

Whenever that happens to me, I pop a bottle that I suspect would be better the next day, so usually that ends up being a bottle of young riesling or chablis and thus can get away with opening something more expensive...

Kelly said...

Hmm. Sounds lovely. IN way even better than spending time out.

AJ said...

"Part of what makes a great bottle of wine so special is experiencing it with someone else, talking about it, seeing their pleasure in drinking it." This makes me ask the question whether or not the other person has to drink it. My wife is pregnant (second child) and only has a half glass or so. I open pretty good bottles - better than I would if I was on my own - but am saving the truly exciting ones. She smells them, sips them, drinks a bit, we discuss the wine. But she doesn't really drink much. We haven't truly shared the bottle, but there is some sense that we've enjoyed it together.

This is my first time posting here. I love the blog and have been reading it for a bit.

Brooklynguy said...

Pifcho - I do that too. Sometimes I want something drinking perfectly right at that moment. but yours is definitely the friendlier strategy, as the wide would get to share the next day when the wine is better.

Hi AJ - We did exactly the same thing when my wife was pregnant with our kids, although every now and then we did open something awesome. even though she could only drink one glass, she loved it from time to time. i let her dictate when that would happen. thanks so much for your very kind words, and i hope you'll feel comfortable commenting again.

manuel said...

Hey Neal,

It was truly fantastic to meet you at the BBQ. Had a great time.

The wine from Riojanas was the 1981 Monte Real Gran Reserva. A great showing of a wine I've had many, many times. The bottle just jumped out of a box at me in the locker at Chelsea Wine Vault and I knew I had to bring it.

The Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre has always been an outstanding value from Trimbach. Just last night I had a bottle of the almost-over-the-top 2000, a plumper version of the '99. The '89, tasted recently, was outstanding. A big, bold Gewurz, but at the same time, with enviable precision of focus.



Brooklynguy said...

Manuel - your description of the wine while we drank it was magnificent, and I cannot remember what you said. Do you remember? great to meet you too.