I ask you. Line them up and you wouldn't think butter would melt. Happy tapping on a keyboard, verbally, they could hardly string a coherent sentence together. But put them in a room with other like-minded souls and a stream of verbal diarrhea - mutterings about brettanomyces, aromatic compounds, tetanus jabs and riedel glasses made virtually incoherent with wild sloshing noises and gargling - like being in the practice ring for an international mouthwash championships or something. And they spit! Their mothers would be appalled. That'll teach me to crack open a '95 as an ice-breaker. I won't mentioned who missed the spittoon. This motley bunch of retrobates are some of the best wine bloggers in the biz. No, really - stop laughing at the back there...
To open the proceedings I threw what I thought would be an 'easy' question into the verbal hubbub. Expecting snappy retorts I wandered off after an hour through boredom as they carried on debating the merits of Chardonnay verses Sauvignon Blanc. I think the moral here is either dont ask a wine person questions or pick something they can actually answer. It seems the majority would opt for a Sauvingon Blanc. Except Lenn.
Lenn, being Lenn, insisted on a Long Island Unoaked Chardonnay while Alder took an aggressive posture and, calling into play his best jolly cockney chimney sweep voice, harangued me "say it properly mate: White Burgundy"; Well that told me then! Derrick, always one to use a few hundred words when one would suffice explained "I love Chablis and white Burgundy or Beaujolais, but I'd probably more often reach for the unoaked Sauvignon Blanc. I'm in California; we put oak on everything that sits still, so I have to clarify." Tim flip-flopped around a bit before settling on Sauvignon too. Strange footware for autumn I thought.
I think Jeanne brought up the next question between mouthfuls of mayonnaise, unsurprising really - "Wine and Food matching - is it important?" I don't think Alder was taking the discussion quite as seriously as the rest would have hoped "only if you want to eat while drinking" he gwaffed. Derrick opened his mouth (I glanced at my watch, not to time his speech but to make sure I didn't miss the next episode of Lost). "Depends. I think people fret about it far too much, and there are far fewer 'perfect' matches than people want to believe. Still, I think some basic concepts are important."
Tim summed it up well though "for me it is about matching the weight, acidity and flavor spectrum of the wine with the food and not the traditional "red with meat" and "white with fish" rules. A wine's color is irrelevant to matching with food." Wise words indeed young Jedi. (Did you know he was a jedi? It said so on his t-shirt so it must be true!)
It was time to ask the crucial question, if only because Lost was about to start and I wanted them all to bugger off, "How many corkscrews do you own?" I asked nonchantly. A stunned silence greeted my forwardness. Anna, quiet until now, clucked from the back "just the one good one" (aaah, bless), Jeanne (how did a foodie get to be here?) owns more corkscrews than rolling pins which wasn't really answering the question. Benito regaled us all with the 'hilarious' description of his 'strategically positioned corkscrews'. But the Corkscrew Champ turned out to be Tim with "five or six". He might be a jedi but the memory's going poor chap.
Things got all serious now - no really, tis true - with talk on the spiritual home of the wine world, the crux, the epicentre, what ever you want to call it. Of course we all know this to be Bordeaux but answers ranged from Italy in the Old World and California in the New (Tim), Champagne (Cam), South Africa (Jeanne "I think SA should be as we are somewhere between the new world and the old world in terms of philosophy and sheer age of the wine industry. But I might be a leeeeetle biased...") and France (Anna, Ben and Lenn).
With a smirk of knowing (+2 to smugness) Beau opted for "Salt Lake City, baby. If only you knew..." while Benito took a meta-physical angle with "On the tongue of every budding wine enthusiast when he first learns to unlock the various flavors and complexities of good wine. Metaphysics aside, I'd probably say Italy. So many grapes, such great food, and a culture that makes wine a part of everyday life but also provides unlimited opportunities for the most serious wine lovers."
With the opening credits to Lost catching my eye I moved the conversation on. South African Pinotage or Argentinean Malbec? split the room equally - although it crossed my mind that they needed to taste more of both to appreciate the inherent qualities and strides in quality both styles of wine have made over the last few years. I didn't say this out loud as Alder was looking menacing with a pretzel.
As the ex-hobbit/ex-junkie/ex-band member pulled the short pregant one through the jungle I let the crew amuse themselves, catching snippets of conversation during the ad breaks.... Slashfood - "oh yes I read it religiously" said one.... "so do I" perped up another.... "especially when that Spittoon chap writes such superb pieces"... "indeed," said a fifth "They should give him a raise". "I've never heard of it" said Ben from the kitchen "and what is spittoon, anyway?"
"Number of RSS feeds I read?, oh, ummm.... 22, I think", said Cam... "You're talking wine and food blogs... that'll be about 4" (Tim using all his fingers) . "I dont read food blogs but I do read a dozen or so wine blogs weekly" (Ben) ... "10-15 for me" (said Anna, pecking at a Wicked Brownie).
I concluded the session with a final question. "Lend us twenty quid guv?" I couldn't possibly repeat any of the responses...
Many thanks to all - Jeanne (cooksister), Cam (Appellation Australia), Ben (Pinot Island), Benito (Wine Reviews), Tim (winecast), Lenn (Lenndevours), Alder (Vinography), Derrick (Obsession with Food), Anna (EveryDayWinePairings) and Beau (Basic Juice). Most quotes taken off email replies to a few silly questions.
Slashfood - get more from your wash.