The Edmond Sun

Food

May 6, 2013

Thinking while drinking

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

1
Text Only
Food
  • UCO, local Y create community garden

    A new community garden is providing a transformative learning opportunity for students and helping stock UCO’s Central Pantry.
    The University of Central Oklahoma’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center and the Edmond Rankin YMCA are sponsoring the garden, providing a transformative learning opportunity for students, and organic fruits, vegetables and herbs for the food bank.

    July 31, 2014

  • Tips for summer grilling safety

    When it comes to summer fun, one thing many families enjoy is cooking on the grill. Whether it is charcoal or gas, there is something that definitely says summer when grilling.

    July 28, 2014

  • Beaujolais: The Greatest Secret in Wine

    One hundred years ago, the Wine Society, a wine club in London, offered its members a Beaujolais from the appellation of Moulin à Vent for $29 per case. It offered cases of Burgundy from the appellations of Beaune and Pommard for around $36 each.

    July 28, 2014

  • Shopping smarter for family necessities can help the environment

    There’s a growing trend among consumers to make choices reflecting the goals and values that matter to them most.  In fact, two out of five people say they’re more inspired to try a natural product that does something good for themselves, their family and the planet, according to a recent study conducted by Toluna for natural products brand Tom’s of Maine.

    July 21, 2014

  • Back to school lunch Build a better bag

    Brown bag lunches and back to school go hand in hand. As you’re gearing up for the start of a new school year, it’s the perfect time to stock the pantry with healthy sack lunch options and after school snacks, too.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kids Cook Simple ways canned foods get children cooking

    When it comes to teaching children about healthy eating habits, there’s no better classroom than the kitchen.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls The Canebrake offers summer recipe for Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls

    The Canebrake, a destination hotel and spa in Wagoner, is offering the following recipe from its restaurant for Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls with Avocado Wasabi Puree.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fruits and Veggies Tips to increase your fruit and vegetable intake

    It’s no secret that the vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables are a key to good health — from building immunity, to decreasing inflammation, to helping you maintain a healthy weight.
    Luckily, there are many ways to ensure you incorporate a sufficient amount of produce in your diet to fuel your day and help you feel great.

    June 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Comic books and thoroughbreds, inspired by wine

    Outside the Bay Area, few wine enthusiasts realize that California’s wine scene is incredibly welcoming.

    June 23, 2014

  • Wines of the West slated for June 7

    Stockyards City presents the fifth annual Wines of the West festival on Saturday. The event takes place from noon to 4 p.m. and features wine tasting in an Old West environment. The stockyards area of Oklahoma City has been active for more than 100 years offering western wear, entertainment and ambience. Stockyards City is on the National Register of Historic Places and still has weekly live cattle auctions.
    Ten wineries will provide samples of a variety of locally produced wines. The wineries participating are: Plain View Winery, Stable Ridge Winery, Wood & Waters, Oak Hills Winery, The Range Winery, Whirlwind Winery, Summerside Winery, Canadian River Winery, Base Vines and Cattle and Wakefield Winery. Tasting will be available as visitors browse retail shops in Stockyards City. Food vendors will be set up in the street for convenience.

    June 3, 2014