Friday, March 23, 2012

LOFT LIFE: Sippers and Chuggers

I think I probably started out as a sipper, on one of many brewery and beer tasting trips we have taken, like the one in Boston where we discovered Brew Moon and were served those little compartmentalized racks of beer sampling glasses and I discovered that I do not, indeed, hate beer. I just hate that lite stuff, and those insipid lagers with no substance and generic flavor.
At Brew Moon I discovered you could squeeze lime, lemon, or orange into a beer and get a magnificent zest, that there are red beers with spicy, rich flavor, that the dark brews have a deep, lusty taste, and that there are a host of beer categories, none of which are insipid, watery, tasteless beverages.
But, it was on our visit to Boston’s Sam Adams brewery that I learned I had moved from sipper to chugger, when we were in the tasting room, listening to the tour guide narrate our tasting experience, and announcing to the entire, rather crowded, room that some people sip, and then some, like that lady in the back of the room (me), are chuggers.

I guess I can’t help myself. I try to drink my brews slowly, and maybe it’s still the wonder I feel that had I not tasted that first microbrew variety, I would still think beer is that stuff at baseball games that tastes like colored, bitter-dull watery stuff.
It was kind of the same discovery route to wine for me. Jay and I had only bought wines with screw top caps or that stuff in boxes, and I always got a headache from those; they didn’t taste good enough to endure headaches.
Then I became a food critic, and as part of the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association, we were wined and fed in style monthly at a fine dining establishment, where we learned about pairing. At these pairing meals, they brought out the good stuff, and I discovered, like with beer, that there are more wines than grapes, and that the wineries that produce them, pride themselves on creating taste experiences that are so memorable you want to write down the names of the labels and re-visit their nectars on some special occasion, or just whenever you need to celebrate life.

My first malalactically fermented chardonnay was from one of the Kendall Jackson's Reserve collections (if I remember correctly). It was described, for instance, as buttery. Buttery it was, a Select version of the white grape that I thought about for months after my sample.
I was so astounded by the experience, and how much it enhanced the food, that I asked my editor if I could write a feature about Wine 101, for the newbie, such as I. She agreed and I interviewed a vintner at the Robert Mondavi vineyards.
The vintner began explaining about the history of wines, and the four noble grapes. He said they were ancient, and for some reason that caused me to say: “Hmm. Ancient. I wonder which one Jesus used when he turned water into wine at that wedding.”
Without missing a beat, he answered, “I think He had a private label.”
Well, suffice to say, if enjoying wine at a special occasion is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.  Everything in moderation.  I don’t read anything about beer in Scripture, but, I believe this too should be enjoyed in moderation by any who are not prone to addiction.
I will, however, try to curb the chugging.