It’s that time of the month again – Monthly Wine Writing Challenge! And the theme chosen by the winner of last month, Ted from the Drunken Cyclist, is “pleasure” so enough of the preamble and on with the innuendo…
Everyone has a day job. Some enjoy theirs more than others. Quite the understatement as the continuum of job satisfaction is broad and the reasons why infinite. One of the greatest pleasures one can derive from life other than the relationships you establish with family and friends, is building a purposeful career in a field that you are passionate about. I have had the good fortune to be inspired by close friends who have connected their passions with a purpose.
Some people struggle to do so, others fall into it quite easily (lucky bastards!) I especially commend those with the courage to pull the rip cord and jump regardless of what others think, say or envy of their ambitions. Redirection of one’s career comes with the deepest of fears. Failure, disparity of income, angry spouses, pleading parents who incessantly beg you to try dental school one more time. Chasing the dream can sometimes be a hellish nightmare, but when the net disappears, whether you free-fall or fly, you will feel the sheer pleasure and thrill of freedom.
Good news for us winos, there is a myriad of business to be had in this field. Those I have met in the business along my path are the most passionate, engaged and inspiring people I have ever encountered. Many decided at one point in time to ditch the day job as chemical engineers, school teachers, police officers, travel agents, hedge fund managers to make wine their life’s work.
I don’t suggest you run derelict of all your responsibilities to catch the next Greyhound to Napa, but if you believe there is a chance, a window, a slight possibility, I suggest you seriously
daydrink daydream about it upon opening your next bottle.
I recently had the opportunity to mix business with pleasure while beating the bushes in NYC. I have done business there countless times, but this was the first time I actually had an open agenda to reconnect with East Coast colleagues, push my booze (Mezcal to be specific) and peruse tech incubators. I also indulged in parties, theater, restaurants, a little shopping and the beauty of New York in Springtime.
My dear friend Stephanie Lake PhD, had a fabulous launch at Rizzoli, for her book Bonnie Cashin: Chic is Where You Find It. A highly praised book on the founding designer of Coach and one of the most influential and iconic American fashion designers you never heard about. Truly one of the greatest untold stories of the last century. Bravo Stephanie. Of course we drank Champagne in honor of the occasion. Alas, I didn’t get a glimpse of the label. Quel dommage.
I had the unique opportunity to set up shop (laptop, iPhone, lip gloss and Mezcal) at the office of friend, power broker and tech start-up CEO Jane Barratt. She offices her company Gold Bean (a securities trading tool for new investors) in a FinTech (truncation of Finance Technology if you want to talk like the cool kids) incubator, funded by Barclays. If this befuddles you, Google what I just wrote if you are the least bit interested. It’s inconsequential in contrast to our primary agenda: the wine selection for Jane’s cocktail party that evening. So we ventured over to Eataly to peruse the wine shop.
Eataly was originally a group of gourmet food boutiques in Europe until the B&B Hospitality Group, key partners include celeb chefs Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich, brought it to New York. With the resounding success in NYC, comes more stores in Chicago and LA. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Go, please, I beg of you, por favore.
I soon found out the shop only carried Italian wines. Duh.I feel perfectly comfortable selecting California, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chilean, Argentinian and Washington wines. Ok, I confess, I am Italian wine illiterate, at best remedial. When in doubt, ask the merchant! Here are his recommendations, albeit, I will take credit for suggesting a Campari or Aperol and soda with a twist as an apertivo. I know my Italian liquors very well thank you. Jane’s only request, stick within a budget. Well, that rule I can abide by!
2011 Nino Negri Quadrio, Valtellina Superiore DOCG, Italy $14.95 Predominantly Nebbiolo with a small amount of Merlot, this blend is a great value as it is a a rich, full bodied red with a dark garnet-red color. Nose is berry and floral, raspberry and roses, with an herbal notes. First sip, it is tart, fruity with lingering tannins. You’ll also pick up some toasty oak. Enjoyable, and rated buy again – although it’s a splurgy good buy as it is over my limit of $10. Live a little.
Sono Montenidoli Tradizionale, Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, Italy $13.99 I read up on this maker and they have an intriguing story, click here for more details as I will not do it justice in my hasty review. Great white, pale yellow, light nose, rich on the palate, with a firm dry finish. This white is perfectly paired with Mediterranean dishes, roasted fish, lemony citrus on all kinds of seafood and I think it would pair nicely with sushi. It is a pleasant wine and one I would consider on occasion over the typical choices of Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc or a Vinho Verde. Rated guestworthy!
Caparzo Sangiovese 2014 from Tuscany, Italy $14.99 Ruby red color with an intense and fruity bouquet. Spicy with cherries, raspberry and vanilla rounding out with a nice lasting finish. Of all Italian wines, I do enjoy a flavorful Sangioveses and it’s my safe word when indulging in the pleasure of an Italian wine list. Of course, I enjoy this wine with spaghetti and bolognese – perfecto!
Non sequitor alert…..Of course one of the finest pleasures in life is ramen. If you are a ramen-phile like myself, you seek out the darkest, dingiest, smallest, clandestinely communal hole in the wall places where you will wait 45minutes to 1 hour in line with all the other aficionados to slurp up a bowl of that brothy, chewy, spicy, flavor-packed, salty, fatty goodness your body craves. A friend took me to Totto Ramen house in the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen (no pun intended as ramen shops are notoriously hot, steamy and as I mentioned, the lines are hell.) I dare you to go, you will become an addicted fiend like the rest of us. I promise.
After an indulgent ramen gorge, what could best aid in digestion? A foot rub of course. Conveniently across the street was a seedy, questionable and very A-typical Chinese foot and back massage “practice.” My white-guy former work colleague was taken aback and refused my offer to pay for his $15 15min chair massage. More for me! I can’t say it was truly a pleasure as my masseuse had just returned from an aromatic smoke break and his technique possibly fractured my C4 and C5. I failed to remember the Cantonese safe word, so I just whimpered away.
Had I known that I would be starring in the sequel, Enter the Dragon II : 50 Shades of Black and Blue, I might have considered ordering some Mochi at Totto instead. However, I was consoled knowing my friend would return in 15 minutes. So much for happy endings.