Almost Teetotaler

In wine on 01/06/2009 at 7:48 pm

Because of my very low tolerance of alcohol, I never really got into the bar scene. One shot of hard liquor (I used to like tequila) or 1/2 a beer (pilsner or stout) is all it takes to get me drunk. Then I met my other half and was introduced to wine. Here now was a sub-culture of drinking where ‘tasting’ was encouraged, quality not quantity. So the last several years, I actually look foward to drinking wine, especially at wine-tastings, because it’s okay to try many different bottles and pour out the stuff you don’t like. When we went to visit an Aunt in Northern California last spring, we found a wine store where the proprieter was becoming fast friends with said Aunt. Doing tastings there had additional layers of depth because here was a guy who wasn’t a stranger trying to just sell product, but a hobbyist who decided to pursue his passion and was dedicated to a very small region of the infamous Sonoma Valley wine country, the Santa Cruz mountains. Hearing the little anecdotes behind each label made the whole experience of drinking light years beyond a crowded, dark and noisy room full of people trying to get laid.

My palatte still has a long way to go since my favored grape is the tame Riesling, but when I can get it, I like Prosecco, and am slowly learning how to differentiate among the reds. On New Year’s Eve eve, at a Peruvian restaurant, Inka Heritage in Madison, we ordered a Carmenere from Chile called Concha y Toro CASILLERO DEL DIABLO Carmenere Rapel Valley; it was half price Tuesday. Here’s my green take on it: when the liquid hit my tongue, there was a burst of full, deep, rich flavor, followed by a strangely refreshing slight drying of it, which I usually don’t like, but it made me want to drink more to get the tangy-ness back. My tongue was chirping, “Yeah, I’d buy a bottle of that, at full price even!”

Now in terms of ambience, there is one ‘bar’ in New York City that we patronize. It’s actually a throwback to the speakeasy, invite only, with a secret email and telephone list, the number that changes when too many people are suddenly calling. Sssh. It’s called Milk and Honey. As much as the whole thing is a gimmick, to go is still an exciting experience, and 3 times out of 4, you can’t actually get a reservation. Unfortunately, several months ago, the email was sent that threw down the hammer. Because of several noise complaints (it’s in a rather quiet neighborhood), the owner has decided to hand out key subscriptions, so for poor folk like us who can’t afford such an extravagant extracurricular activity, if or when we go again, it will be even more special.

What makes M&H great? There are rules of engagement. The ambience is unbeatable: candlelight, period jazz, tin ceiling tiles. The drinks are made from top shelf liquor, and when you order, you don’t really need to know what to order, just what flavors you like. And they make their own ice depending on what type of glass your drink resides. I don’t want to give away too much, but needless to say, this is one special place for an almost teetotaler to find reasons to go.

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