I must say, I have never seen a restaurant that respected wine more than Charlie Trotter's. Many times I experienced the now-legendary adaptations of dishes to the wine on the table. Once I asked Charlie, "Did you really change that dish because I'd ordered (X) wine?" He said, "Of course I did; we do it all the time. What's in the bottle can't be changed, but I can tweak a dish to make the match work perfectly."
We've been chatting a bunch lately about which wines age well, and which wines we should buy to drink ten or fifteen or twenty years down the road. Today, we're checking in with famed wine importer (and friend of the site) Terry Theise. He's known for bringing small-production wines from Germany, Austria, and the Champagne region of France to the US, so he knows a thing or two about how these bottles taste as time goes by.
We have a high-priest class in fine dining restaurants. They possess the mysteries, and while nearly all of them are remarkably affable and helpful, one's heart can quake when they approach the table. "I must be able to navigate this crucible if I want anyone to even like me, let alone get...lucky." So what does an otherwise capable person do in this delicate moment? How do you make it through with your aplomb intact, and furthermore, how do you get the most from your sommelier?
How do you spend your wine dollars wisely? If you possibly can, try to favor the wines of Old-World small family estates, not because they are necessarily "better" (though often they are) but because you're getting more absolute wine-quality per dollar spent. Why? Because these families own their land, their vines and their homes. Their only actual expenses not already cited are for equipment maintenance and upgrades, and most saliently for labor.
Sometimes someone will return from a trip to France where he has visited the producer of the wine he's been paying $27.99 for, and he's shocked to see he can buy it at the winery for 9 Euro. He assumes a retinue of greedy capitalists have squeezed every shekel they could eke out of the wine. But where do those numbers come from?
There is a unique frustration sometimes in wine. You buy a random bottle somewhere; it seemed interesting at the time, but it's an incidental. Some day you'll open it and find out how it is, or was. If it's disappointing, that's OK. If it's good, then it's good. But if it's exceptional, it ambushes you, and all the time you're fascinated and blown away you know you'll never have that wine again. And you lost the pleasure of anticipation. So you're amazed at the suddenly amazing wine, and the moment wasn't prepared for.
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