On boars and hangovers
Like Proust and his madeleine, the scents found in wine can oftentimes evoke memories quite unrelated to whatever is actually in the glass (that scent is the sense tied most closely with memory is well known, as is the fact that Proust’s madeleines are overused in food writing of all types*).
On Wild Boar:
Boeckel Pinot Noir Rose, Alsace, 16 US Dollars
If you ever want to sell me a bottle a wine a surefire way to guarantee yourself a sale is to point out a bottle pressed with grapes that another region is famous for. Chardonnay from Burgundy? i’m skeptical to say the least, given the many dissapointments and over-priced bottles. Chardonnay from the Jura? i’ll take both producers you have. Burgundy pinot? No thanks I really can’t afford a good bottle. Alsatian pinot? I’ll take one. A rose even? i’ll take two. And so it goes until there is nothing left in my house but cabernet from Touraine and Austrian everything, but no bordeaux.
Almost all the red wine that comes from Alsace is made from Pinot Noir, but only around 5% of the wine from Alsace is red. i have no idea the further percentage that is devoted to rose but I would guess it is smaller still (no shit). The good thing about this wine is that it shares little in common with its famous French cousin. It’s not that Burgundies are bad, far from it, but one would hate to go out of one’s way to discover that pinot grown in a different climate in a half german (quarter?) culture can be made to hew close to preconceptions. This is definitely a wine to look at if you only know pinot that can be described as “velvety.”
The number of times I have eaten boar, not to mention seen one in the wild, can possibly be counted on one hand, and i only say possibly because i simply can’t remember as it has been so long and so infrequent. Nevertheless the first thing that came to mind when i smelled this wasn’t fruit, dried or otherwise, alcohol, or even “unction.” No, it was wild boar, both the animal of medieval hunts and the meat that comes soon after. The wine is raw and bracing, earthy, almost overpowering after the bottle is first opened. it is unbalanced in the best way, it’s faults (slight astringency) more than made up for by its unique characteristics. It was quite the slap to the face, and in fact it caused a disruption since it was about to knock out the pork chops we planned to have with it.
Two Rivers Riesling, Colorado, 12 US Dollars
while i can’t quite figure out why i would think wild boar so vividly while smelling a wine (atavism perhaps?), i can easily figure why a wine would evoke a hangover. There is nothing like cloying sweetened wine to give you a hangover, and very few tastes i would rather not have haunting my tongue in the morning. I would almost suggest with this next wine that you simply forego actually drinking it, and instead drink too much of something preferable so when you wake up you can just imagine taking that dull roar in your head and bottling it, and labeling it Two Rivers Riesling.
Philosophically i am not at all opposed to this wine. It comes from a newer region in America that may find it’s stride at some point, it is from a grape known for expressing nuance, and thirdly it is froma small producer trying something out. However, as many a strident Marxist is loathe to admit, philosophy and reality are more often than not imaginary bedfellows never to actually cross paths. As a wine this one has more in common to new world sauvignon blanc and cotton candy than it does to riesling. It is oversweet, dare i say cloying, and tropical. There is no acid to balance out the cavity aches, and nothing to rinse off your palate when finished. Like the pinot, it has little in common with the classic definitions, but unlike the pinot probably could use some.
What to listen to: Animal Collective with the pinot, and…uh…Sublime with the Riesling, but i don’t recommend the band or the wine.
What to eat: the pinot demands gamey meat or stew, food demands not to be eaten with the riesling.
*for the literate types i have checked Proust once before on this blog, but you already knew that.