I love to nurse a great glass of wine, when out socializing at a wine bar or paired with a delicious meal at a local restaurant, but I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not even a particularly voracious drinker. Mostly, I just know when I like something, and find it pleasing enough to drink an entire glass, and when I don’t.
Over the years, I’ve slowly become familiar with an array of winemakers and varietals, discovering some that I enjoy imbibing more than others. I tend to make my wine selections based on a few simple criteria: what I’m eating, temperature and season, country of origin, recommendations from the wine merchant or my fellow diners, and when all else fails, most artistic label.
When I’m feeling celebratory (or indecisive), I opt for the bubbly. Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava always make me a happy camper. This I know well. I typically prefer red to white wines, but sometimes a red is just too heavy, especially on a hot summer night, at which point, I’ll go for a nice rosé. I tend to like wines from California, France, Italy, Spain, Chile, and Australia, most of all. A broad range, it’s true. When I eat a certain regional cuisine, I’ll take the ‘when in Rome’ approach, and choose a wine from that same neck of the woods.
That’s about the extent of my novice wine selection thought process – when I’m flying solo. Which is why I absolutely love getting together with my dear friends, Kristen Siebecker, Certified Sommelier and epicurean event director, and Matthew Wexler, food/travel writer and seasonal chef extraordinaire, who know eons more about wine than I do. Not only are they tons of fun to drink with and hilarious conversations ultimately always ensue, but they’re both exceptionally knowledgeable about food and vino, so I actually end up learning a lot in the process.
Kristen and Matthew have a real knack for pinpointing the subtle nuances of flavors, that I’d never pick up on in a million years. I can usually identify a particular fruit, or a hint of spice that’s present, but I often struggle to put my finger on exactly what I’m tasting. Listening to them as they sip and grasp for the perfect adjective, gives my own palate a much clearer understanding. Thankfully though, they manage to talk about wine in a down-to-earth way that makes it engaging and entertaining, rather than highfalutin and stuffy. Kristen is a delightful story teller who gives each bottle a rich context. She manages to highlight some element of that particular wine and make it relatable to just about anyone. Her passion and expertise, coupled with her unpretentious style and enthusiasm for teaching, doesn’t leave you feeling like a total dunce, and makes tastings with her a most pleasurable experience. Not to mention, Matthew’s exceptional knack for pairing takes the whole culinary experience to another level entirely, coaxing flavors out of both the food and wine, which make both sing more sweetly.
So, when Matthew was recently tasked with the assignment of writing about three bottles from the Gerard Bertrand collection, it seemed like the perfect excuse for our threesome to unite around the table at Kristen’s spectacularly situated Midtown apartment once again, and conduct a taste test in the name of “research”. Matthew got to ball rolling, tossing out a few inciting questions, pen poised to paper. Kristen popped our corks and poured each glass to perfection. We settled on sushi as the cuisine du jour and each took turns in the driver’s seat, navigating the lengthy online menu in a quest for an appropriate pairing to suit the wines, as well as our cravings. They lobbed descriptive adjectives back and forth across the table, like a tennis match, and I stuck to what I do best: taking photographs!
And now, the results of our wine tasting collaboration:
First up, the 2010 Cremant de Limoux. Kristen tasted: “light, clear, bubbly, crisp, and toasty! An excellent bang for your buck”. I spied: an emerald green bottle, spouting sparkly bubbles; a glowing champagne toast, afore a teal table setting.
Next, the Gris Blanc – Kristen tasted: “simple, nice fruit, easy to drink. Light for a rose, more of a peachy color. You could sip this at a summer picnic all day and night.” I spied: an aptly named wine for this cloudy day. The overcast back light perfectly illuminating the colors of this peachy flesh tone rose; the bottle mirroring a subtle silhouette of the Empire State Building.
Finally, the Muscat – Kristen tasted: “a sweet wine with a robust lychee, coconut and tropical fruit nose, best served with dessert.” I spied: a royal blue label popping from golden yellow sweetness; when set on a blonde wood tray or against a cubist wine rack, moody romance ensues.
For Kristen’s full write up of this experiment, click here, and for Matthew’s post, click here. If you’re inspired to discover other memorable wines for under $20, also check out The New York Times : Food Section’s latest article.
Want to learn even more about wine in a fun, down-to-earth way? Or discover the perfect pairing of your soon to be favorite new wines and gourmet nibbles? Host an intimate gathering of friends at your abode or create a custom tasting at a local culinary hot spot! Contact Eye For Style Services and we’ll create a unique event with Kristen and Matthew, specially crafted for you and yours. Share your vision and leave all the pesky details to us. It’s never been easier to play the perfect host.