White's Wines —
“Is a bottle of wine ever really worth $100?”
This is a question I’m regularly asked by friends who aren’t obsessed with wine. My answer is always the same.
“Of course,” I begin. “For starters, there’s supply and demand — bottles sell for what the market says they’re worth.
“But to your real question,” I continue, “no one is dropping that sort of money simply because a wine tastes so good. On those special occasions when you splurge — whether for a $25 bottle, a $50 bottle, or even something that costs $100 or more — you’re hoping for something beyond deliciousness. You're hoping for a wine that makes you think.”
Regardless of a wine’s price tag, this answer helps explain how wine enthusiasts approach wine. Those of us who obsess over what we drink aren’t just looking for something tasty; we’re looking for an experience. Whether a bottle costs $15 or $150, we’re hoping for something great. And a great wine makes you think.
This concept was made clearer last month while listening to Abe Schoener, an iconoclastic California winemaker, deliver a lecture in Washington, D.C.
Until 1998, Schoener was a professor of ancient Greek philosophy at St. John’s College in Maryland. That year, he headed to the Bay Area for a sabbatical and met John Kongsgaard, a Napa Valley vintner who was quickly gaining a reputation for making interesting wines. Kongsgaard’s children were interested in St. John’s, so the two men linked up. They quickly hit it off. Even though Schoener didn’t plan on staying in Northern California, he soon became Kongsgaard’s protégé.
Fast-forward 15 years, and Schoener is still in California. He makes wine as if he’s still a philosophy professor, now teaching students about the limits and possibilities of wine. Like a vinous Socrates, Schoener explores wine by constantly questioning established conventions.
Unsurprisingly, the results — bottled as the Scholium Project — are extremely unusual. The name is derived from the Greek word for “school” or “scholar,” so quite literally, the wines are a scholarly endeavor. Some are hits; some are misses. All make you think.
Thanks to the wines — and a captivating personality — Schoener has developed somewhat of a cult following. So he’s touring the country on a sold-out lecture series. In Washington, Schoener asked attendees to ponder several oil paintings from the National Gallery of Art as he discussed “precision and transparency in winemaking.”
That Schoener’s lecture would spark a dialogue about the purpose of wine isn’t surprising. Nor is such a dialogue unusual. Consider the wisdom of legendary winemaker Jacques Lardière, who recently retired after 42 years with Maison Louis Jadot in Burgundy.
“When you drink wine, you must realize you are drinking something more than wine,” Lardière explained to a recent gathering of oenophiles in New York City. “It’s a very meditative beverage.”
That meditative element is what inspires and fascinates wine enthusiasts.
Obviously, a delicious wine doesn’t have to make you think. Inexpensive New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Provençal Rosé, and reasonably priced Argentine Malbec are just some examples of wines that are typically consumed thoughtlessly.
And there are many unappetizing wines that demand contemplation. For my palate, some skin-fermented whites and purposefully oxidized wines fit this bill. So do a few of Abe Schoener’s projects.
Great wines are both delicious and thought-provoking. That combination is what wine enthusiasts seek, regardless of price.
One might compare this pursuit to music. It’d be hard to contend that listening to a song is worth much more than a dollar — iTunes’ highest priced songs are $1.29. But virtually everyone is willing to pay a premium to see his favorite artist perform live. Bruce Springsteen’s newest album, “Wrecking Ball,” can be purchased for $13; tickets during his recent tour were priced at $98 each. At Springsteen concerts, attendees undoubtedly get their money’s worth.
Next time you pull a cork, think about what you’re drinking. Perhaps you’ll discover a great wine.
DAVID WHITE, a wine writer, is the founder and editor of Terroirist.com. His columns are housed at Palate Press: The Online Wine Magazine, PalatePress.com
White's Wines —
“Is a bottle of wine ever really worth $100?”
Annual gingerbread house contest
Spread holiday cheer by making a gingerbread house this year. The Edmond Historical Society & Museum invites residents to enter into the fifth annual Gingerbread House Contest at 2 p.m. Dec. 14. Ages 5 and older are welcome to participate.
Gingerbread House Contest Rules:
• Ages 5-11, Ages 12-17, 18 and older
• Must be made out of edible materials
• Placed on 18-inch by 18-inch or smaller board
• No gingerbread kits (but you may use graham crackers)
• Participation is free, pre-registration is required
• Bring gingerbread house to the Edmond Historical Society & Museum between the dates of Dec. 10-13.
Judges will present first, second and third place awards in each age category. Judges will be looking for:
Edmond reminds residents of proper disposal of ‘FOG’
The City of Edmond’s FOG program helps homeowners learn to properly dispose of fats, oils and grease.
“These few simple tips will help you avoid a sewer back-up in your home. Not only is a sewer back-up unpleasant and unsanitary, the clean-up can cost thousands of dollars and your homeowner’s insurance may not cover the cost” said Casey Moore, public information officer.
Fats, oils and grease eventually become solid rather than liquid and the grease will stick to the sides of sewer pipes and clog them. This can cause a back-up and an overflow in your home, or into the streets and streams.
Kermit Lynch’s journey of wine discovery
“When I wrote the book,” explained wine merchant Kermit Lynch, “I thought the oenologists were going to take over.”
We were chatting about Adventures on the Wine Route, Lynch’s seminal tour of France that can be found on every wine enthusiast’s bookshelf. When the book was released in 1988, Lynch feared that “old-style wines” — artisanal projects that expressed a sense of place — were on their way out, so he launched a crusade to educate his “clients to the diversity and virtue of those wines.”
Enjoy season-long holiday flavor
After waiting so long to taste the distinctive flavors that make the holiday season so special, McCormick, a global leader in flavor, is here to make sure each moment is filled with them – every day leading up to Thanksgiving and every day after. With simple tips from the McCormick Kitchens on enjoying the season’s top seven flavors — pumpkin spice, ginger, vanilla, peppermint, sage, cinnamon and nutmeg — everything from breakfast to dessert can have the best holiday taste.
Sweeten the season with delicious holiday desserts
Show your friends and family just how much you care with delicious homemade holiday desserts. The combination of seasonal flavors and time-honored traditions are sure to give holiday party guests a sweet memory to savor long after gatherings and get-togethers are over.
Wondering what to drink? Ask a winemaker
Imagine if BMW’s design chief admitted that Ford produces some of his favorite cars. Or if the CEO of Coca-Cola confessed that every now and then, he craves a Pepsi.
A new take on traditional foods for Day of the Dead
Food will no doubt be a focal point for families celebrating the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead this November 1 and 2. What has become one of the most popular holidays in Mexico — and is becoming more common in the U.S.— is the custom of honoring and remembering deceased loved ones. Gathering with friends and family over delicious traditional dishes is sure to be a highlight of celebrations.
Preparing pumpkins for fall cooking
Most of us have a good eye for a pumpkin that might make a good-looking jack-o-lantern. But when it comes to pumpkins for cooking, the same rules simply don’t apply.
“When you’re choosing a pie pumpkin,” advises Amanda Horn, Family and Consumer Science Educator at Oklahoma County OSU Extension Service and registered dietitian, “you need a sweeter pumpkin usually the smaller they are the sweeter and the less watery.”
Also, it is important to look for pie pumpkins with a 1- to 2-inch stem. If the stem is cut down too low, the pumpkin will decay quickly and already may have started to decay when you buy it. Pumpkins that are going to be used for cooking also need to be free of blemishes and soft spots, but shape is unimportant.
Make baby’s first birthday a smash with playful pint-sized cakes
More than 374,000 babies are born in September and 367,000 in October every year, according to the Center for Disease Control and National Center for Health Statistics 2010. That’s a lot of cake. According to a recent Betty Crocker survey of moms conducted by KRC Research, the cake is one of the most important elements of a first birthday. In fact, 58 percent of moms shared that watching their one-year-olds explore, taste, smash, smear and dive in to their first birthday cake is the most memorable moment of the party, far exceeding opening gifts and singing “Happy Birthday” to their little one.
OSU Cooperative Extension offers ‘Soup Up Your Fall’ class
As we enter into the fall season and the weather begins to cool off many of us turn to those hearty comfort foods we grew up loving to keep us warm and full. One staple meal during the cool season is soup.
“Soups are fairly easy to make and if properly prepared they can be healthy and save you money” said Amanda Horn, a registered dietitian and family and consumer sciences educator for the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension. “In this class we discuss how homemade soups can be healthier than canned, how to prepare them in advance to save you time, and discover some fun and fresh ingredients you can use to add a little pizzazz to your bowl.”
“Soup Up Your Fall” is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the Northeast Regional Health & Wellness Campus located at 2600 N.E. 63rd St. Oklahoma City. This will be an interactive cooking class with many demonstrations of soup dishes. The participants will have the opportunity to sample all the foods prepared during the workshop and take home a “Soup Up Your Fall” cookbook with some great soup recipes.
Cost of the workshop is $10 and pre-registration is required before Oct.14. For more information, contact the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Service located at 930 N. Portland at 713-1125 or access the Extension website at http://oces.okstate.edu/oklahoma.
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