Tuesday, May 21, 2013
By Joe Appel
I was at Tandem Coffee – the wine lovers' coffee spot, really – and we snooty jerks were talking about coffee freshness and terroir and the seasonality of different growing regions. I asserted that beans as expertly, delicately roasted as those from Tandem should be sold in the produce section of grocery stores, to emphasize how it's a perishable product whose layers of complexity are obliterated by the careless auto-drip protocol most people employ in order to fix a cup of black morning beverage.
After I'd slithered backwards out of this self-dug rabbit hole, I contemplated how we were talking about ways to publicize the agricultural vitality – not to mention transcendent gustatory joys – of "correct coffee" when the number of people who would even pause to listen to any such pitch represent a woefully thin splinter of the population. Coffee is either a drug-infusion vehicle, a base liquid for a cream and sugar cocktail, a pleasant reason for meeting a friend, or something else that's maybe better but rarely something to get all heady and detail-y over.
We were into real snob world. (Will from Tandem himself was the first to call me on that.) But whatever you care about, you ought to pursue with as much fervor and detailed infatuation as you contain. And you need to find friends to share your pursuit, otherwise you won't learn anything and you'll be miserable.
Now, I'm writing this after a dinner party where because I'm a "wine guy," I was asked to bring wine. I brought wine I'm currently excited by, and some of it was drunk but none of it mindfully, by which I probably mean given the sort of reverence that I personally (and arbitrarily) define as mindful. It was only natural: We were just some families hanging out and celebrating the Jewish new year. It wasn't a wine-tasting party! And I had fun there. What else was I expecting?
But to be honest, I'm in something of a pathetic no-one-understands-anyone-else moment right now (hello, my rioting friends in the Middle East), which is ultimately a useless place for a writer to be. But I have two wines to mention, the ones I brought to the party to share but felt were ignored.
Before writing what you've just read, I wrote a column that provided some geographical and historical context to the region, Trentino in northeastern Italy, that produces these wines. I wrote about the winery, because it's a good winery that focuses on indigenous grapes and makes wines that are unique, in balance, inexpensive and splendid with food. Some readers might want to know the background; most don't. Most people who tell me they like my writing say they don't care much about wine. So this one's for you.
The Terre del Fohn Muller-Thurgau 2011 ($12, Wicked) has so much going for it. Made from Muller-Thurgau grapes grown at the foot of the Dolomites, it expresses spicy, floral scents and a tremendous rock-salt flavor next to dry white peach that reminds me of a dry Muscat. The flavor intricacy is carried by brittle acidity and a sturdy structure (for this, thank the cold nights of the region and volcanic soil of the vineyard).
The Terre del Fohn Marzemino 2010 ($12) is just delicious red wine, straightforwardly so. The Marzemino is grown in a more southern part of Trentino than the mountainous region for the white, hence a relatively soft, smooth, unhurried expression. Easygoing raspberry fruit, lengthened by violet aromas and a licorice finish. I first tasted it last spring, but after tonight's meal (salmon, red cabbage, delicata squash), I know it's going to be a close autumn companion.
Anyway, if you happen to taste either of these, see if you'd like to spend some time letting it talk to you. Then, if you like, listen. Or, another thing you could do is not listen. You'll probably be happy whichever you choose.
Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog, soulofwine.com, continues the conversation, and he can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.