Wino Confession Time
Ordering wine at a restaurant is awful. Just awful. And the thicker the book, the more awful the decision. Hundreds of choices, maybe thousands, and you’re the one who’s going to choose what people are drinking for the meal. Spicy shrimp for the lady, pear salad for the other lady, and t-bone steak for the gentleman. Now, what wine will we be having tonight?
Plus, in all likelihood you’re going to have a 10 second conversation with the waiter about the wine, maybe the waiter has tried them, maybe they just want to sell you something and move on. And honestly, we all want to move on. We’re not dwelling on the wine. We want the wine to be there like we want ambient music, in the background, maybe triggering a memory, but not overpowering the real business of the night – talking over each other.
Yet another reason that couples should date
But, confession time – it’s amazing when you’re at a restaurant with your loved one and you can actually read the wine menu. When you have time to parse through it like summer fiction, unhurried and enjoying every word. You can talk about certain wines you know (possibly 1 out of 100), get excited when there’s a new grape or a new region, or just something funky on the menu, and actually enjoy the process of looking through the wine list without the pressure of executive decision-making ticking off the seconds in your head. It’s letting the inner geek out for a run in the park and knowing that however long it takes, it’s fine. You’ve got all the time in the world.
Such was the date night on a recent frigid weekend when Chica and I went to Uvarara for the first time. Uvarara (translated “strange grape?”) sits out in the car-friendly part of Queens, which means the next time we’re going is when we next rent a vehicle. They’re all about strange, Italian grapes and had all kinds of regional grapes on their short but fascinating wine list.
Perricone is the grape we chose and when the owner brought over the bottle for inspection, it became immediately clear that we both recognized the label. Not one week before we had bought a wine by that same producer because it was a new grape and was under $10 (an exciting, rare fine) and we had the bottle sitting at home, still untouched. Now this thing NEVER happens to us. We don’t have a ton of wine and we usually know what we have so surprises at restaurants don’t occur at the moment the bottle shows up at the table.
But in that instant, I knew the quizzical look on Chica’s face, knew what it meant and thought the same thing. It felt old. Like octogenarian, front porch, married people old. Like how old is supposed to feel when you know someone for an extremely long time and have all kinds of shared experiences from living together for so many decades. So, Perricone became the old people, long memory wine even before the first sip.
And the first sip lived up to the hype, I’m happy to report. Dusty, medium body, blackberry, plum, non-spicy, long non-fruity finish with more dust on the end. Nothing offensive to it – mild, smooth, subtle wine, little violet too. Great value for $9 retail.
Colle del Mandorlo 2010 Perricone by Feudo Montoni from Sicily, Italy
* Perricone might be related to Barbera (or even the same thing – DNA test pending), another light-medium Italian grape that crafted really positive family memories with Sister Consueldo in the past. In a parking lot.
* Perricone is really bitter to eat as a grape and not that popular for growing, even on Sicily where it’s one of the Top 11 indigenous red grapes. Not sure how it shows up in NYC for sub-$10 but buy it if you see it.
* There’s a Dr. Perricone (no relation to the grape) who has been hyping the benefits of certain foods for several decades. Wine’s on his list in the pro-heart category and his best interview is this Wine Library interview from a couple years back.