Sunday, May 15, 2005

Wine and cheese affairs…

Maybe it was watching Sideways. Maybe it was the numerous bottles sitting patiently on the wine rack, brought back from many a European excursion. Whatever it may have been, I had a stock of great wine and no outlet to enjoy them with others. So I set out to create one.

And the wine and cheese affairs were born.

The first time, back in December, I had just a few friends: E.P., K.A. and Tanying, join me in this mini-feast. Unfortunately, this was before I discovered food blogs and understanding the importance of writing down my food and drink opinions, so I’m relying on my memories to guide the first part of this post. I remember we had a gorgeous bottle of Cline 2002 Marsanne. The white wine felt so moist and buttery as it traveled from the top of my tongue down to the back of my mouth. The butteryness lasted long into the finish and I could still taste it well after my last drop. There were two other bottles, a red and a sweet wine, both from the Veneto region. Unfortunately, they did not leave me with any real lasting impressions and I hardly recall the tastes, lest their names.

E.P. brought a cracked pepper (chedder?) cheese and some plain Carr’s Table Water Crackers. These bland, but crispy crackers paired well with the pepper cheese because they didn’t overpower the sharpness or spicy aftertaste of the cheese. A few days before I had picked up a massive 5 lb. bag of dried fruit from Costco (gotta love warehouse shopping). The figs, peaches and apples blended especially well with the Marsanne and even the other two wines—so well that the whole bag was almost finished by the end of the night! Yep, 5 lbs!

My second wine and cheese affair, held last weekend, was also low-key with just a few friends and friends of friends. It was a gathering to celebrate the end of classes (for some of us) and just an excuse to drink wine and be merry for the rest. My two gallerying (note: this is a made up adjective to describe the activity one does with certain friends on particular Sundays in the arty neighborhoods of NYC) pals Tanying and J.M.R. as well as J.M.R.’s friends, D.K. and A.K. joined us for the festivities. I think one of the keys to holding these kinds of affairs is to limit it to 4-6 people. Anything more seems to be like a dinner party and just a tad too unwieldy for wine and cheese.

We started out with a 2000 Legend R Bordeaux, a white bordeaux from Barons de Rothschild. The Roses were given a case of this wine as a gift from our very kind and generous neighbors and of course I “gifted” myself a bottle (I’m in the process of trying to “gift” myself a 2nd). A.K. tasted hints of honeysuckle and other herbaceous matter. It was a very satisfying wine with a wonderful finish. I felt it went quite well the mild chevre that Tanying had picked out from Fairway’s gigantic selection of cheeses (note: going to the Upper West Side branch of this gourmet supermarket can become a game of squeeze, push and pull—not the most pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon).

Our next wine was a 2000 Masi Campofiorin Valpolicella from the Veronese region of Italy. Valpolicella is produced at the foothills of the Alps, just west of Verona and often composed of Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes. This vintage is a combination of red Veronese and semi-dry grapes. The wine was full-bodied with a powerful bouquet—one that seemed closer to a leather like taste than the normally associated floral essence.

The third bottle of the night was a vino frizzante, Soligo Marzemino Colli Trevigiani. A sweet, mildly bubbly wine that had clear hints of strawberries on its palate. It may have even been too sweet for the cheeses we had—the chevre, a peppery brie and a dutch cheese that A.K. brought with him. The fizz, again, was not very strong and did not overpower the sweetness of the wine. It was interesting, but I think I’m going to stick to good champagne for my next fizz fix.

The last bottle of the night is always a crowd pleaser and a favorite of mine, a 1996 Reserve de la Comtesse Pauillac from Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (now, if I could only pronounce this properly in French—sigh—I think it is a hopeless cause). A few years ago (like 1998) Mama Rose decided to get a few cases of this wonderful red—we are still “chuggin” away at our supply. I have “gifted” many bottles, for my own consumption, for actual gifts, and of course for my wine and cheese affairs. An intense and fully-bodied wine that has a deep full red, almost black color, the taste is complex and lingers long after drinking your glassful. I could taste the hints of currants and berries and its complexity would be a great accompaniment to a roast (or two).

To enjoy the company of close friends with food and drink is something I've only begun to appreicate. I hope I can afford (time and money wise) to continue this tradition for many years to come.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not bad for a Raboy!!!!!!!!!!!
Congrats. Hope you're having a great time in China.
Your favorite uncle.

2:01 PM  

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