Taking Time and Tasting Wine: It’s All About Patina
Prior to joining Reserve, I was the Wine Director for April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig, The Breslin and The John Dory Oyster Bar in New York City. In my current role as Head of Special Initiatives for Reserve, I have the fantastic opportunity to give back to our dining community by putting together events that nurture curiosity, education and most of all fun. Having spent many hours in wine tasting seminars where you’re given answers in bullet-point form rather than being offered questions that invite further understanding, I have a penchant for a curious gathering of people looking to experience something new.
Together with The Musket Room, I recently hosted a very special wine tasting for a cross-section of New York’s top beverage directors and wine writers. My co-hosts were Master Sommelier Richard Betts, creator of Sombra Mezcal, My Essential wines and NY Times best selling author of The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert, and Levi Dalton, host of the widely loved and respected I’ll Drink To That podcast.
Tucked inside the beautiful sunlit back room of The Musket Room (in my opinion, one of the nicest rooms in Manhattan), we tasted a rare line-up of mature white wines showing positive oxidation to discuss the idea: It’s All About Patina.
What exactly is patina in wine? Simply put, patina is the lovely layer of complexity that certain wines develop over a number of years. Patina, or complexity from age, can only come with patience over time. You cannot hurry the process along; it must be allowed to unfurl at its own pace if you wish to fully appreciate what the wines have to offer.
In the spirit of inviting our guests to learn in concert with us, my co-hosts and I simply moderated while the entire room shared their thoughts on each wine. There is a magic that happens when you release your audience to share the journey of discovery with you; not only do they fully engage with the wines as well as one another, but the entire group then benefits from the collective knowledge of years of experience in the dining industry.
We eagerly delved into each glass. When wines get old, they can speak on a level that younger wines are not yet capable of. These mature wines can quiet you; sometimes it feels like they gingerly place their hands on your shoulders and remind you to listen. They work on you, occasionally inspiring you to speak about things very close to your heart, things that you were unaware were bubbling right below the surface.
Sometimes they even confuse you, for example when Levi noted, ‘This wine is kinda like Joaquin Phoenix. There’s talent there, but I’m not quite sure what to make of it.’ And we all got exactly what he meant; the wine seemed like it was hiding something we wanted to see, like it was looking over its shoulder at us. Traditional wine-speak regarding proper pairings was gently laid aside when we spoke about how insanely delicious the Kalin Sauvignon Blanc could be with Chinese food, or how impressive Chateau Musar Blanc is with lamb.
Overall, the energy in the room was tightly knit with curiosity, reverence for the age and complexity of the wines, and gratitude for having taken part in such a rare little New York moment, where we all got to steal back an hour to enjoy the wisdom that age has to offer.
Emilio Hidalgo, Fino, La Panesa, Jerez, Spain NV
Weingut Emmerich Knoll, Grüner Veltliner Federspiel, Loibenberg, Wachau, Austria 1998
Francois Cotat, Sancerre, La Grande Côte, Loire, France 1995
Chȃteau de Fieuzal, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France 1989
Kalin Cellars, Sauvignon Blanc, Livermore Valley, California 2001
Tenuta di Fiorano, Malvasia di Candia, Lazio, Italy 1993
Domaine JL Chave, Hermitage, France 1988
Chateau Musar, Obeidah/Merwah, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon 1999
Domaine du Clos Naudin (Foreau), Vouvray Demi-Sec, Loire, France 1997
Reserve’s promise to give back to its dining community matters. From a life-long restaurant industry girl, believe me when I tell you that there’s an unspoken love and respect for the food and beverages we serve each night, and this tasting reminded us of exactly why we fell in love with dining in the first place. There is always more to learn, there is always more growth, or as Levi said regarding one wine, “The movie’s still playing on that one.”