Thursday, August 19, 2010

Considering how obsessive and anal I am about some things in life (the cleanliness of my sheets and the orderliness of my dish cabinet for instance) it is perhaps odd how much influence I am willing to cede to third parties in other areas of my life, most notably when it comes to food and drink.

I am that irritating person who, in restaurants, asks the waiter what he recommends, whether he likes the steak or the fish, or perhaps the risotto is better?  My feeling is that having most likely eaten everything on the menu, the waiter is probably in a better position to choose than I, a mere visitor, would ever be.

I subscribe to the same theory when it comes to wine.  I love love love a glass of wine.  But, although I've occasionally tried to learn something about the stuff, my interest tends to wane when the tasting ends and the lecturing begins.  It just feels too much like school to me.

So I have to rely on great wine stores for advice instead.  One of my absolute favorite spots is Italian Wine Merchants, located conveniently enough just down the street from my office.  I went in there the other day in search of a red to go with sausage and pasta, and attempted to describe a bottle that I thought would be perfect that I had bought there some time ago and enjoyed immensely but the name of which I had of course forgotten.

The always helpful staff looked it up.  We honed in on the correct bottle using a combination of approximate date of purchase and my description of the label, only to learn that they were out of it.  As it turns out this was a blessing, because the woman told me she had a much better option.. She promised it drank like a $30 bottle, despite the $12 price tag.  Quattro Mani Montepulciano d'Abruzzo it was then.

And as I found out once I was home and cracked open the bottle, she had not steered me wrong!  The wine was smooth, mellow and the fruit was just lovely.  It is exactly what I want to be quaffing in the early evening with simply Italian food with a laid back group of friends.  Or in the early evening on the couch watching bad TV.  It's not only delicious but also versatile.


Jane said...

I love love love a good soft Italian red. Much prefer to the cabernets in Australia which frankly at my advanced age make me feel headachy after just one glass. My advice - buy a case of it.

Sneaky Magpie said...

I love montepulciano, scary to think I won't be having any for a while! But I could smuggle it into risotto rosso, mmm....

Laura [What I Like] said...

Jane - I'm seriously considering it, I couldn't agree with you more about the cabs!

Sneaky Magpie - I would smuggle away...9 months is a looong time with no vino!

Millie said...

I still go weak at the knees at memory of a Pine Ridge Pinot I drank with a client 10 yrs. ago in D.C. I don't normally take recommendations, especially at a $100+ bottle price point, but as an Aussie out of my familiar surrounds, I acquiesced on the night. I kissed the Sommelier at the end of the night for his insistence - he thought I was unbalanced. All these years later the said client is still one of my best!
Millie ^_^

Joanna said...

My boyfriend and I do that, too. Ask the waiter what s/he recommends. It just makes perfect sense, considering that they, of all people, would know what the best things on the menu are, so you may as well get their opinion on the matter!

Also, after being burned in the past by buying expensive wine and being disappointed, I've made a rule that I won't spend money on wine unless I've either a) tasted it before or b) it comes highly recommended. Having a helpful, trustworthy wine guide is a lovely, lovely thing. Wine just makes everything better, no?

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