Sunday, May 20, 2007

Good Wine, Better People

I get to be a hero this week, thanks to some former members of my father's church.

It began this last Thursday. At the beginning of class, we met with the two second year students who are executive chef and sous chef for this week's fundraising buffet dinner. The theme is Northwest cuisine, all local ingredients and flavors. One of the featured dishes is buffalo brisket braised in Pinot Noir. My chef instructor was bemoaning the fact that none of the local wineries here around Eugene would donate the two cases of Pinot needed for the dish. The alternative facing them was to buy a case of Pinot, and make up the rest of the volume in boxed Merlot. [shudder]

I raised my hand and explained that I knew some people who owned a winery and would see what I could do. One phone call and a call back later, and it was arranged. We drove the hour and a half down to Tenmile today, and now there are two cases of Pinot sitting in my garage, waiting to go with me to school this week.

So if you get a chance, and like good wine (and better people), and live somewhere where it's sold, pick up a bottle from Girardet Wine Cellars. Here in Oregon they're sold in Fred Meyer, among other places, and they're available in other western states as well. In addition to their Piont Noir, I highly recommend their Baco Noir, which is an earthy, fruity, full-bodied wine that is surprisingly versatile for a red, and their Grand Rouge, which does a great impersonation of a Cotes du Rhone, for a good price.

Losing My Religion

As many of my readers and friends know, I am a devout Single Malt Scotch Whisky drinker. It is almost, you might say, a religious devotion to me. The problem is, the Scotches I prefer are rather... pricey, to say the least. A great way to forestall alcoholism, but frustrating nonetheless.

In order to compensate for this, Ive let my love of Scotch lead to a general affinity for whiskies, with Irish and Bourbon whiskies playing second fiddle to Scotch, and Canadian a distant fourth. While I still like them, Ive considered them slightly inferior -- not necessarily in quality, but at the very least in my palate and preference. Until tonight.

I was called in to work to shadow the regular dish pit guy, in hopes I'd learn a few things that will help me avoid the weeds tomorrow and in the future. I DID pick up some time-saving pointers, but also discovered some duties I left undone last week, simply because I was not made aware of their existence. But that's beside the point.

The point is that after my shift, I went out to the bar for a drink. a patron was feeling magnanimous and picked up my tab for one drink, so I decided to try a Bourbon that the bartender recommended to me last week.

Dear Lord...

I hope my highland ancestors can forgive me. I've found a Bourbon that is, at least to my tongue, on a par with a good single malt. Ladies and gentlemen, I commend to you: Woodford Reserve. This is a small batch Bourbon, and I drank it in a highball, with a single cube of ice -- as God In Heaven intended. It wasn't peaty and earthy and smoky, the way I prefer my Scotch, but it was smooth, rich, and complex -- this whisky had something going on, and it was something good. The deep reddish-amber color, the easy way it rolled down my tongue -- I was drinking silk.

I am still a Single Malt man. There's something fierce and tribal about a dram of Uisge Betha. But for a sipping whisky that manages to come across as a bit less musty, but still just as distinctive and indepentend, you'd not go wrong by pouring yourself some Woodford Reserve.