Visceral Words

Posted on February 2, 2012


Reading Between the Wines by Terry Thiese

I headed up to the mountain today expecting it to be colder and drier than at sea level, but the snow up there is pretty saturated. It was deep and soft, but boggy and slow. I chose my long skis thinking that I would be able to cruise on corduroy, but even the groomers were soft with some patches of snow more heavy and wet than others that required bracing for faster and slower rates of travel. Heading back to the car, switching out to my skating skis, and hitting the nordic trails proved to be a more satisfying experience, so the trip was not all for naught.

Müller-Catoir Bürgergarten Spätlese Riesling

Roasted organic chicken is on the menu tonight and that always satisfies, especially on wet and soggy days. I love how my kids get so quiet while they are eating it because they enjoy it so much. If I could choose any wine to accompany the chicken and availability was not an issue, I think I would choose a Terry Thiese selected Riesling. I have hardly had any experience with Rieslings because I am still trying to round out my knowledge of reds and, from what I understand, Rieslings are a world unto themselves. At least Thiese would make it seem to be so; he is a compelling writer and has planted the seed of Riesling intrigue in my mind.

"Each wine falls like a small snowflake, but they settle into a blanket of snow"

In his book Reading Between the Wines Thiese discusses his own tasting notes as a means to give an example to his readers about how they might write their own wine notes. He believes that a visceral approach is a good way to find one’s way into the experience and to my delight he has an example that includes snow and mountain references: “we were partway through the Rieslings. The wines were incandescent, as usual, and I noticed the way that beauty consolidates when you taste one superb wine after another. Each wine falls like a small snowflake, but they settle into a blanket of snow. We tasted a Spätlese from the Bürgergarten vineyard, and I wrote, ‘Well well well…so this is the view from the summit…inconceivably exquisite. Plum essence in a perfect duck consommé. Spice spice spice. Mineral sings, “Honey, I’m home!”’” Then he tried a sister cask that was to be bottled separately and he wrote, “’I didn’t know this was coming. How do you get higher than the summit? Stand on tiptoes? Now comes the saltiness to shimmy into the sweetness and glide in an itchy, urgent gorgeousness over the palate…profound and magnificent yet without opacity, rather delineated to the last molecule of detail.’ I tasted it again and again as if to break the spell, but the wine was bigger than I was, and I vanished through the membrane.“ See what I mean? After reading this I cannot help but want to experience it for myself.

In future writings I plan to introduce more wine writers by using food and wine pairings as a vehicle to share their compelling stories. By reading their stories I have sought to experience and have found some wines that I would not have otherwise known of and others I still hope to know someday.