It’s a glorious weekend and you are out with your friends hanging out. You and your friends debate for a while and decide on that new hot Italian restaurant that just opened up downtown – because one of your friends says they have the perfect, most mouthwatering pasta al nero di seppia. Sounds all great and good – but what the heck is that, you ask? You get the first inkling that he may be just one of those guys – a self-styled foodie. Or he may just like a good squid ink pasta. Yes, squid ink.
But you go along with it (for now) and what’s prepared to come: a barrage of wine terms once you, your friends, behold the self-styled foodie enthusiastically asking for the wine menu.
The server offers to pass around another wine menu – and for a moment a pause. You gauge the reaction of your buddy and his girlfriend sitting across the table. Let’s face it, you may be shooting a somewhat despondent plea from your eyes: “Who invited this guy? I thought we were gonna have just a nice lunch – but wine? Wine?! I’d rather just have an IPA or try that brightly orange craft cocktail!”
Or perhaps your buddy’s girlfriend just thinks you are staring at her.
Looking at the end of the table, you can’t help but be captivated by the foodie, gleefully scanning the wine list. The server stands, patiently, quietly – almost supernaturally patient because you look around, and the restaurant is packed. And she might just have ten other tables to water, with an apple juice pending for a kid. But no matter. Silence descends on the table, silence intermingled with curiosity as the foodie reads of the menu as if he were enjoying The Lord of the Rings.
“How is your toscana?” he finally asks.
Ok, you think, this guy is not just a foodie, he’s a bone fide Wine Geek.
The server appears to be gathering her thoughts. That apple juice for that kid across the way couldn’t be further from her mind.
“It is, well, umm,” she stalls. “It’s a popular style of Italian wine.”
“Cool,” the Wine Geek says. “Do you know if it is more sangiovese or merlot? I don’t want anything as beefy as a nebbiolo.”
You and your friends shoot glances at each other. You may be vacillating somewhere between curious and mildly annoyed at the Wine Geek’s questions. Wine names you have never head of – wine terms that are as alien to you as the Cambodian word for “food”.
“Ok,” she says, “let me go ahead and get our sommelier. She’d love to tell you a little bit more about the Tuscan wine you are asking about.”
Wine Geek looks around at the table, and smiles wryly – maybe even half-apologetically. Meanwhile you all talk about which pastas sound great. The pasta primavera, or how about the linguine with vodka sauce.
And yet this new wine related term – sommelier hangs vaguely in the back of your mind. Finally, the sommelier comes back followed by your server.
You notice that even before talking about the wine she asks what the table has in mind for lunch? Ok, so now you are a little intrigued.
Wine Geek speaks up, and asks about the wine again.
“Yes, great question,” the sommelier asks. “That wine is personally one of my favorites. It’s medium bodied, has some olive on the nose, and lively red fruits on the palate.”
This is the real deal! All of a sudden you feel a little more excited than cynical about all these questions and wine terms new to you. In fact, you muster the courage without the liquid courage. Alright, enough talk, let’s taste this wine, I am curious.
Wine Geek looks pleased. The enthusiasm just may be infectious.
The sommelier pops open the Italian wine, and offers a pour around the table. You steel a glance across the way, and Wine Geek is burying his nose in his wine glass.
“Ah, smell the mediterranean olive, do you get that?”
Yes, by God, you do.
Here, try some of this. He takes some bread sitting at the center of the table, dips it in olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar and offers some for the table.
“Take and eat,” he pontificates.
The table munches silently. Even the sommelier seems amused.
After a sip of the toscana those notes – those flavors of mediterranean olive, and yes -even some fruit notes pronounce themselves on your palate.
“I think I am beginning to see what you’re talking about,” your buddy’s girlfriend chimes in.
“Yes, this is a nice wine. I think it will pair well with the calamari we’ll have for the table,” the Wine Geek says.
The sommelier leaves and a new opinion forms in your mind, of the Wine Geek, his wine terms your formerly thought stuffy and pretentious. And the wine seems to have a relationship with the food – they go hand-in-hand. You begin to get the idea, and start thinking about another wine term he threw around the table – red fruits – while tasting the wine.
Cherry? He nods. Plum? That very well could be. He let’s you in on a secret – it’s all a little subjective.
And now, for the main entrees. You’ve trusted Wine Geek thus far for the wine. And you take his word on that nero di something-or-other pasta, contentedly drinking Tuscan wine, forgetting you’re about to eat pasta prepared with squid and its own ink.