I am sitting in a Russian wine bar, being stood up for a going away party, listening to "All By Myself" and the restaurant is empty save me, the waitress and whoever she has in the kitchen. Irony, no? (most brilliant opening credits ever.) ((followed by the best entrance by the villian ever.))
It's an intereting place, my first time here, called Olyseya's. She's Russian and the menu features cavier, foie gras and italian main courses. 15 champagnes (8 by the glass) plus 6 or 8 sparkling wines on offer. I guess she's one of those Russians. The wines range from "Are you kidding me?" bottom of the barell to, amazingly, one of my all time favorites, completely overpriced, naturally. it's odd that I know judge a wine list (or wine store) by the Americans wines offered. It used to be I judged by the number of imports I did not know. However, now, it's the Americans setting the pace. I can't begin to tell you the amount of self-control (read: self-censoring) I've developed. Every once in awhile I cannot manage to supress it and what escapes is, thankfully, just a giggle. But still, in theory, I'm an adult. I'm starting to understand why the French bring coffee and chees with them while travelling.
Not that this list was in any way bad; it just struck me as... underserved. Honestly, if I see Turning Leaf or Sutter Home on one more menu, I'm starting an importing company. (which, incidently, I should do anyway.) ((hmm...)) If it's a good menu, it will doubtless include Beringer and anyone who has drunk wine with me knows I cannot abide by Beringer. The menu last night had Ravenswood Pinot Noir, which, though ovrpriced, is worth every penny. When they have a good year that is. Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to demand consistancy from (rent Sideways if you'd like the long and poetic expliantion for this) so blaming the vinyard is a bit like shoooting the messenger. However, big comma, I have run into no tother vinyard whose wines vary so spectacularly from year to year. Buy a good year and it's heaven on the pallate; love being made to your tounge; sinful divine-ness. (oh look, other guests! 7 loud Brits. Thank god) But get an off year and you'll learn just how far wrong a wine can go. You'll wish it was corked just so you can send it back. I'd sooner order TJ Swann. (Magical Moments please. Or New York Moments. MM was Denise's favorite. ine was NYM because i foolishly believed they actually drank it in New York and would make me sophisticated. And that's why you should be 21 before you start drinking.) So what am I supposed to think when I see Ravenswood on the menu? At the bargin basement price of $40. And what am I to say when the waitress recommends it?
I ordered a Shiraz after a long-winded explination the waitress never had a hope of understanding. And those of you who have drunk wine with me know I generally (always) eschew Shiraz. I have seen the light. I will never drink Shriaz in the US again. I was served two Shirazes (is that the plural?) at a wine tasting and was forced to recant my description of "watery, schmaltzy, weak excuse for a red wine". And tonight's Shiraz proves I was (for part of the time ayway) not drunk and could be counted on to remember correctly that Shiraz is actuallya bold, huge, spicy wine that is close to a force to be reconned with. It's wonderful on this side of the Atlantic. I'm now suspicious of every Auusie claim of "we love Americans!", frankly. Granted it's still below Malbec and Tempranillo on my list of favorite varietals (read: type of grape) but ti's definately gaining ground quickly. I adore subtly, but when it comest o wine, I want the rugby equalivilant: body slam me to the ground with flavor. I don't underst and white whine drinkers. (Apologies Joe, I know you do it for medicinal purposes) ((Frenchy)) "Oh it's gentle!" "It's very delicate." "It's just his side of water... why bother? (So much for the 7 loud Brits behind me) I have my favorite whites, but white belongs in summer, residing alongside full-flavor tomatoes, bikinis, and other delicacies. Honestly, don't people know anything?
Ok, they just called; the going away party is running late. And now I must go meet them in the pub where I'll have my choice between one bad red wine and one bad white wine. It might be time to switch to beer.