Thursday Tasting 8-5pm
When you describe a wine as “drinkable,” what do you mean? I don’t mean the proverbial “you,” I mean you, literally – the person reading this email right now.
As always, if you can't make it to the tasting but would like to order one of the featured wines, please let us know by replying to this email or calling the store directly at 773-486-4769.
By nature of how the question is being posed, I suppose it’s rhetorical. It’s an important question though – it’s our job to interpret what our customers ask for into recommendations that you’ll enjoy. We spend our days looking at, talking about, tasting, and drinking wine, so it’s easy for us to distinguish between one wine and another, and use them to triangulate our individual and collective viewpoints on abstract ideas like “drinkability.”
I’ve touched on ideas like this in previous emails. The piles of cultural baggage that we all sort through in this simple transaction – buying a bottle of wine to drink with dinner – are overwhelming. Eric Asimov dives into this idea in his book How To Love Wine; Americans tend to think that they have to “understand” wine to be able to enjoy it.
I pose this question with sincerity. It’s overwhelming for us too. When someone asks for a “drinkable red wine,” we’re tasked with untangling the meaning behind that statement and reconciling it with our preferences and our stock. The touchstones for drinkability in the context of our shop tend to be; low alcohol, light tannin, little to no oaky flavors, lively acidity, fresh fruit flavors, with herbaceous and/or mineral (savory) flavors to balance that fruit. (These all more or less hold true regardless of color.) The bottles that are gone before you know it.
You don’t have to agree with us. In fact, it’s satisfying to have a discussion with customers about their own personal points of view.
This brings me to this week’s Thursday tasting. There are certain categories that we turn to internally for satisfying and drinkable wines that aren’t on everyone’s radar. For us, Grüner Veltliner is as familiar as you can get, and Blaufränkisch is something everyone should be drinking but nobody knows about. So yeah, we’re going to taste a couple of Austrian wines tomorrow.
Austria isn’t Germany. They share a language, but when it comes to wine they are different. Most Austrian whites (including Riesling) are dry, and half of the national production is red wine. Add to that geographic and cultural diversity, and you start to get a picture of why we find the wines so interesting.
Join us tomorrow to taste two wines, equally drinkable and complex, and let us know what you think of when you say “drinkable.”
Hofer Grüner Veltliner Freiberg 2015 – $21
The Hofer family farm their vineyards a little over twelve miles outside the city limits of Vienna. The region, called the Weinviertel, is tucked into the north-eastern corner of Austria, bordered by the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Hofer’s have farmed organically since 2001, growing mostly Grüner Veltliner. Freiberg is one of their top sites. This bottling is a balance between up-front, approachable fruit, and white peppercorn and spring herbs – classic for the variety and the region.
Preisinger Blaufränkisch Kalkstein 2014 - $22
Claus Preisinger is cool. A tall and handsome guy in his thirties who geeks out on natural wine, and is proud of his Hungarian heritage. His region, the Burgenland, on the north side of the Neusiedlersee, was a part of the ancient Roman province of Pannonia – straddling eastern Austria and western Hungary (as well as parts of Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina). Blaufränkisch is the noble grape of the region, and arguably one of the most unsung in the world. Dark fruit flavors, a hint of earthiness, with a great balance of acidity and tannin.
These wines taste good. You should come in and try them tomorrow. We think you’ll like them.