Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Grapes of Craft

In the film, Thank you for Smoking, Nick Naylor, played by Aaron Eckhart, tells the journalist sitting across from him at the dinner table to try the '82 Margaux.

When she asks, “Is it good?” Naylor says, “Good? It'll make you believe in God.”

Wine drinking is a seductive and strong experience, maybe not always spiritual, but connoisseurs don’t take their wine lightly. Drinking wine is a learning experience; such as, which wines go well with which foods, wine and cheese pairings, wines for different occasions, which vineyards and years of wine are the best. Whether you enjoy a cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, merlot, white zinfandel, a syrah, and the list goes on.

I went to London Wine Bar; America’s first wine bar, as proclaimed on the sign out front. I also knew this because of the interesting young guy standing out front who said, as he smoked a Marlboro, "I wouldn't be caught dead in a yuppy, pompous sh** hole place like that, even though it is America's first wine bar." So there you have it. It opened in September of 1974 and the owner, Gary, has been there working behind the bar since 1975. The cozy bar located in downtown San Francisco on Samson and Sacramento Street, is the kind of place you could go to have a good glass of wine and de-stress after work. The crowd was a mix of older men and women and business people chatting at different tables.

I decided on a 2002 Bridgeway Cabernet. Patrick Cress, the waiter, or sommelier, told me that this particular wine is made by a negotiant, where the owner negotiates with different wineries that actually have the juice and then he makes the wine. It was elegant and fruity, going down very easily so I could relax and enjoy good conversation with my friends, which is an essential pairing of good wine.

Lining the bar around the ceiling were empty bottles of Bollinger wine. Sean McLaughlin has been a regular at London Wine Bar for many years. As tradition, every year on Friday the 13th, from 5-9 pm, McLaughlin buys Bollinger wine for everyone in the bar. This year was the 50th anniversary of this tradition and they went through a record breaking 67 bottles of Bollinger that night. I did not try this wine because it is $65 a bottle. I’ll just have to make it back on the next Friday the 13th. (looks like there's one this month).

There is a library of wines that has been collecting since the 70’s. There used to be over 1,000 selections of wine,” Cress said, “but now there are 600. The bar usually has 50 different bottles of wine open at any time.

“When I smelled my wine, it was like I was standing in the middle of an oak tree,” said Marc Velasquez, I'm assuming somewhat facesiously, who was enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir from a vinyard in Sonoma County.

My second wine was a French Brouilly (Broo-e-yee) Chateau de la Chaize. This one was more of a flowery taste, but rich and smooth. I preferred the Cabernet to this one, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Maybe this wine bar is a yuppy pompous place to some, but I enjoyed my wine and still have so much more to learn. As the makers of Brouilly describe it, wine "brings happiness and sunshine to the heart and insures you against difficult tomorrows." We could all use a little of that.


Michael Vick said...

Great report, Christina. I'm not a wine fan at all, but your blog post is interesting enough that I don't have to be to enjoy it.

Todd said...

not to downplay an interesting blog entry but i really, really enjoyed the punny title

eerickson said...

agree with todd... the title is great. I will be visiting this wine bar to de-stress after school. How adament are they about ID's?

Christina W said...

I don't think they even checked our id's because the crowd is older there. Worth the shot...

Christina Kho said...

thanks for blog. i will definitely check that place out with friends. where did you get the info on the wines? did they provide some info?