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I read all these threads about these fabulous dinners people have at home, with photogenic, obviously labor-intensive food, and legendary bottles.   I can't speak for anybody else on this board, bu

If I'm not enjoying wine when I'm seventy, then my nieces and nephews are going to be stuck with a shitload of wine they won't know what to do with.   Or my next wife, who by then should be almost

Whaddya mean? That's more than half the meals I serve. Tossed with great care, I might add.

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Reheated leftover stir fry.

To me, this kind of dinner almost demands a grand wine more than "nice" dinners do.  Cuz, let's face it, reheated leftover stir fry, while quite delicious, by itself is kind of depressing.  But dress it up with a grand wine, it becomes an occasion.

Moreover, I had a PERFECT wine.

2002 Domaine du Haut Bourg Muscadet Côtes du Grandlieu "Origine"

I was an early adopter of aged Muscadet -- it just made sense to me -- and previous bottles of this have been the most umami-laden wine I've ever drunk.  The salinity of Muscadet, heightened with time, and that heavy umami Q made this wine seem like a dream pairing with a stir fry laden with soy sauce.  And so it was.

But you know what?  With extreme age (for a Muscadet) this has gotten more elegant.  All that salt and umami now come garbed in a velvet glove.

This is really something.  No fruit to speak of:  Muscadet doesn't have fruit.  But what you get is this paradoxically thin-textured unctuousness, now absolutely fully integrated, that lasts and lasts and lasts.

I'm not sorry this is my last bottle of this:  I don't see its having much of a future.  But what a ride!

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3 hours ago, Tubbs said:

It is both good and bad that the wines I have that have appreciated the most are also the ones I like the most. 

It is both bad and good that the one wine I've ever wanted to appreciate the most, a generous birthday gift of Lafite, which I researched for a week and cradled like a baby when pouring, not that I know anything about babies, was the worst I've ever tasted, one that had not only died but been fossilized in the bottle, thanks to past bad handling, and is just as memorable to me for having been hurriedly replaced, that otherwise celebratory night, by a Lucky-Charms-berry-sweet Fat Bastard red. 

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Leftover reheated rhubarb-glazed lamb ribs.  Not only was this the kind of dish that benefits from being left to sit in the refrigerator for a while, but that initial batch really was undercooked.  Live and learn.

Sautéed mustard greens with a shit-ton of green garlic on the side.

Still no rice.  (I forgot.)

2018 Domaine Charvin Côtes du Rhone "Le Poutet"

There was a time when Côtes du Rhone comprised a very large proportion of the wine I drunk.  They're so easy, so immediate, so delicious.

But then they came to seem too syrupy, too much.

Now, more let us say modern approaches (meaning more traditional approaches) have established themselves in the Rhone, as in most places. 

Don't get me wrong.  This isn't a cookie-cutter "natural" wine.  It tastes like a Grenache-led Southern CDR.  (The blend is mostly Grenache, with small amounts of Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Syrah.)  It just tastes lighter, quicker on its feet.

So the reddest of red berries cascade out of the glass.  (If I had glazed the ribs with red currant instead of rhubarb, this wine would have been figuratively cheering.)  Then out to the herby fields.  It's a cliche to say that wines speak of place, but this really does scream out Provence.

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Pan-seared (and I do mean seared) mackerel with a beet horseradish/dill dressing.  On the side, steamed broccoli -- I don't know why I didn't roast it -- topped with whatever you call the successor product to TuttoCalabria's nonnata di pesce (the name keeps changing) (thanks again for this, joe!).

It's odd that this thrown-together dinner turned out to be one of the very few attractive plates I've ever produced.  (That Millennial Pink dressing was really attractive.)  It should have looked like the usual gloppy mess.  But it didn't.  I have no idea why.

I selected the wine at a time I thought I'd be preparing the mackerel differently.  I'm not sure I'd have chosen this wine to go with a beet horseradish/dill dressing.

2019 Les Foulards Rouges "La Soif du Mal" Blanc

I wonder if Jean-François Nicq has any current regrets about the name he chose for his winery 20 years ago.

He couldn't have any regrets about his wines.  This natural white, from the foothills of the Pyrenees using the kind of white grapes you find in Southern France, is glou glou glou.

Although, to be honest, it's not quite as inconsequential as that honorific implies.  This isn't a profound wine, but there's stuff going on in the glass.  Meaning that, after the initial burst (and I do mean burst:  this is one of those wines that leaps out of the glass at you) of fruit -- pears, first and foremost -- you get a whole bouquet of herbs, beautiful, fragrant, tasty.

In my mind, I'd want something a bit more austere (and frankly more Austrian) with that horseradish.  But this is so purely delicious, I wish I'd bought more than this one bottle.  This is the kind of thing you want to be drinking all summer.

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My first culinary foray into Mongoworld:  his Andhra-style spicy chicken fry.

To be sure, this was a slightly dumbed-down, quite North Americanized take on Mongo's recipe.  But fuck was it tasty.  (There are certainly more Mongo recipes to come in my life.)  The best part is, you just know the leftovers are going to be even better than this initial portion was.

OTOH, the worst part was, almost everything that could have gone wrong while preparing it, did.  I forgot to run the dishwasher this afternoon, and so I have to wait until its long cycle runs out before I can start clearing after this messy meal.  I ran out of rice short of the amount I wanted.  I ran out of grapeseed oil, and had to supplement it with wildly inappropriate olive oil.  (In retrospect, why didn't I use butter?  I mean, we know that's good with Indian chicken.)  MY FUCKING KITCHEN CEILING LIGHT BURNED OUT.  That certainly lent a certain Goth air to the cooking proceedings.

Sautéed mustard greens on the side.

At least I had a good wine pairing lined up.

1993 Hans Wirsching Iphöfer Kronsberg Scheurebe Spätlese Trocken

I wanted something kind of off-dry but not too.  And there it was.

Frankenwein (by which I mean wine from Franconia, NOT wine made from GMO grapes) has almost no reputation in the world.  I read somewhere that less than 10% -- maybe less than 5% -- of Franconia's output is exported; it's mainly (by FAR) drunk locally.  I came to adore it when I was stuck in Hamburg (in the Vier Jahreszeiten!) on business one long-ago summer.  (Yes, I recognize that Hamburg isn't in Franconia.  But it's a lot closer to it than is, say, Brooklyn.)

At least in my admittedly limited experience, Frankenwein all has some residual sugar.  (This wine is called "Trocken", but what they mean is that it's Trocken for a Spätlese.)  And there is NOTHING wrong with that.  Tonight, it gave me just what I wanted.

Most Frankenwein is Sylvaner, but this was a Scheurebe.  Scheurebe tastes like Riesling, but more intense.  That doesn't make it better, understand:  Riesling reigns supreme because of its perfect balance.  But it DOES make Scheurebe a better match for a quite hot dish like this one:  there's NO WAY the very spicy food was going to completely overcome the flavor of the wine.  Yet, this wine's flavor isn't weird (that's an oenophile term of art) like Gewürtztraminer's.  And there were no tannins or high alcohol to heat up your mouth with the spice -- and lots of acid to counteract it.

It's unfortunate that I am NEVER going to come up with as good a pairing for the leftovers.

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Oh, AND Frankenwein comes in those distinctive Bocksbeutels (just like Lancer's rosé!) (yes, I recognize that Portugal is not in Franconia).

I LOVE distinctive regional wine bottles (even if, like this one, they're a total pain in the butt to store).

I wish Chianti had never given up the fiasco.

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It shouldn't be a surprise that I am so well able to make spaghetti puttanesca.  After all, I spent most of my adult life working as a putta.

This has to be one of the very toppermost "bang for the buck" dishes.  With very little effort, you get something insanely delicious.

Sautéed mustard greens on the side.

I decided to abjure my usual Geographically Correct pairing criteria tonight.  After all, it's a big part of the putta's job to be accommodating.

2018 Casal do Ramilo Jacktpot

This is a very inexpensive -- I don't think I paid as much as $15 -- wine from the region in Portugal that is now called "Lisboa" but used to be called "Estremadura" back when I was first learning about wine.  It's made from mostly Aragones, with a quarter part Castelao -- which could be anything as far as most of us are concerned:  who knows what those Portuguese grapes are?

But here's the thing:  for a sub-$15, this is crazy.  Bright bright fruit -- cherry berry, just as you'd think -- and then what I could most charitably describe as stuff.  By which I mean, in a wine this inexpensive, you're grateful that there's an interesting, palatable secondary set of flavors:  the fact that they're not particularly distinct is far from a deal-breaker.

"Jackpot" is a good name for this wine.  Cuz that's what you'll feel like you hit when you drink it (remembering what you paid for it).


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Elk medallions with pan-roasted shallots.  This was very good (although I think I'm gonna retry the same recipe* on my remaining elk medallions, as I can see some minor things I fucked up that I can correct).  Elk medallions are one of Fossil's very best-selling products, and it's easy to see why:  extremely easy to cook (just don't overcook them!), jam-packed with flavor.  I mean jam-packed.  Evelyn would love these, I’d bet; Stephanie, though, should DEFINITELY steer clear of elk if she doesn't like venison.

Oven-roasted chanterelles on the side.  And some gem-like (as opposed to Gem) lettuce overdressed the way I like it with a Luberon-herbed vinaigrette.

2006 Stone Hill Winery Norton "Cross J Vineyard"

This is Stone Hill's senior Norton cuvée.  And it's exponentially better than their other wines.

Norton is a cultivar -- but it's a purely North American cultivar, a cross between two native grapes.  It's generally considered the best wine grape North America has to offer -- although, as I've complained in the past, nobody using it (including Stone Hill) is doing a first-class job.  It must mean something that Riedel has a dedicated Norton glass, though (probably it means that Riedel is greedy).

This is very much the best Norton I've ever had.  There's a foxy tang here, no question about it.  But this is, by a good margin, the most complex wine made from native North American grapes I've ever drunk.  The flavors come in layers:  cranberries, and baking spices -- and foxiness. 

So three questions must arise.  First, was it good with the elk?  Yes -- but it would have been even better if the elk had a fruit (say huckleberry) dressing.  (These elk medallions would be fucking GREAT with a huckleberry dressing.)

Second, can Norton age?  As this was the best Norton I've ever drunk, I guess that means it can.

Third, is this wine better than Chëpika's Catawbas?  No way.  This is more complex.  But it's heavy-footed compared to those wines with their sophisticated racy joyfulness.

More first-rate winemakers need to start paying attention to native grapes.


*The recipe came (more or less) from Field & Stream.  We may disagree about politics, but we can DEFINITELY come together over dinner.

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