Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Patient Cook (Wynns Cab/Shiraz/Merlot)

Patience and thought are key in creating a delicious dinner. It took me about 10 minutes to grate close to a kilo of broccoli, about five to chop the ginger and garlic so fine they were almost liquid.  Lacking the modern tools to puree ingredients effort must be exerted to dice veggies till they are so small they are puree like, patience pays off in lieu of technology. Patience and determination will make a good soup, it may take quite a bit longer without a blender or food processor, the soup may be a little more like your chunky fat cousin than it otherwise would be but the soup will still taste awesome. Why as humans to we have the patience and determination to put so much effort into creating food we love, but lack the patience to wait for it to cool down before tasting? 

I made a delicious broccoli soup, before putting all the ingredients into the pot to cook up I cracked open an equally delicious bottle of wine. I didn’t expect the food and wine to pair all that well, but sometimes you have food and you have wine, you need to drink and you need to eat, the flavours at your disposal won’t necessarily match, such is life. As it turns out the flavours went surprisingly well together, the soup brought out a nice peppery flavour to the wine that was otherwise absent.

My disappointment laid not in the pairing of food with wine but rather with my lack of patience and the price I had to pay because of it. Soup gets really hot, the human tongue is not terribly well equipped to deal with boiling liquids. In my rush to taste and adjust my soup recipe I neglected to allow the soup to cool to a reasonable temperature before tasting.  The result: an inability to taste anything, including a very tasty wine that I had thankfully already opened and written tasting notes for.

To be honest I can still taste but my burnt tongue is nowhere near as responsive as it usually is. Burnt tongue be damned my broccoli soup (I can’t speak to the quality or pairing ability of your broccoli soup) goes surprisingly well with my wine of the night.

All this burnt tongue business and inability to taste got me thinking about an often over emphasized topic in wine: flavours. Does a wine taste of blackberry or is it closer to black cherry? Is that a hint of white or black pepper I detect? The more I learn about wine and converse with wine types, the more I realize the specific flavour attributes of a wine are not only highly subjective, they are also largely unimportant.

It is true that there are certain flavours that will often be agreed upon by most people drinking a given wine. But it is also true that a lot of the flavours wine professionals attribute to a wine are not necessarily because the wine actually tastes like tar, but rather the wine community has agreed as a whole that a given flavour will be described as tasting like tar. Really who the hell has eaten tar?

A lot of things are done by convention in the wine world. Convention be damned! If you want to take notes on wine you have drunk just write down what you taste, don’t worry too much about being accurate because no one is, and even if they were no one could confirm it because taste is fairly subjective.

What is more important than specific flavours are the attributes, i.e. acid, tannin, body, intensity of flavour etc., of a wine. There is much more agreement on tannin, acid and body than there is on flavours.  If you read the back of a label and what you taste doesn’t remotely match up with what it describes worry not, a good wine is a good wine regardless of whether it tastes more like blackberry or black cherry.

Producer: Wynns
Wine: Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Shiraz Merlot
Region: Coonawarra, Australia
Grapes: Cab Sauv 52%, Shiraz 38%, Merlot 10%
Vintage: 2007
Alc: 14.5%
Price: $23

Notes: This is a powerful wine but it is well balanced which makes it well suited to eating with food (my delicious broccoli soup) or by itself. A luxurious texture with mostly Blackberry but hints of red cherry there is also eucalyptus, and tree resin. A fairly long finish, this wine is well balanced and has a lot to offer it's pretty Awesome!

Creepy side note:
As I was copying the text of this essay to post I noticed it has exactly 666 words.


  1. Maybe what is required is a side by side tasting of white and black pepper, etc. With wine pairings of course!
    Okay, I know your post negated the necessity of a tasting like that, but it might be fun nevertheless.
    (And I have noticed a difference between red peppercorns, green peppercorns and the other colours, but whether that difference is noticeable in a meal is another story.)
    (I guess in terms of food, the reason for a variety of similar tasting yet differently coloured foods, or at least spices, is for the appearance, as I'm sure you know. I suppose the same doesn't apply to wine, since the colour of the tasted flavour is a figment of the individual's palette... Hm, I can see how people get so philosophical about it!)

  2. I'm skeptical that anyone could tell the different between white and black pepper, though I have been known to be wrong. Next time you drink wine put some black pepper in one of your glasses than try white pepper, let me know the difference.
    It could be fun tasting the food that you you find in a wine with the wine itself, although I wonder how some of the foods would obscure the wine, also I would be hesitant to try that with the classic cat pee aroma of a good sauv blanc.

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