Eric Asmiov, who writes for the New York Times “Diner’s Journal Blog”, told bloggers in his keynote speech at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia, that he learned to think about wine in terms of drinking it, as opposed to tasting it. Simply tasting it, says Asimov, misses the point in forming a connection with wine, to those of us who are passionate about it.
Amen! We’ve gone back and forth with our fellow bloggers on the whole “spit versus swallow method,” when writing about wine. While I do think it is important to spit when engaged in a Speed Tasting, or an industry tasting that calls for sampling hundreds of different wines, I don’t personally feel qualified to write, recommend or review a wine based solely on a single (or double, or triple) swirl, sip, gargle and spit.
For me, it is impossible to truly appreciate a wine and all of its nuances unless I not only consume it in the glass, but enjoy it with food. After all, we assume you are looking for suggestions on what wines to drink, not simply taste. Perhaps Robert M. Parker, Jr. can do so. But I would bet that most people are not in the habit of opening several wines in one sitting to simply taste them, and then pouring them down the drain.
In addition to consuming wine and food, I want you to be able to see what we’re eating and drinking. We can do only so much with words. If you can almost reach out and touch the food and wine, it’s much easier for me to share my passion with you.
For most writers and photographers, the standard moniker for highly detailed, close-up food pictures is “Food Porn,” but I prefer to think of it as “Food Erotica.” While both seek to stimulate the senses to the point of arousal, pornography has gotten a very bad rap in our Puritanical society. Just check the dictionary which defines pornography as “obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit.” The same dictionary defines erotica as literature or art dealing with sexual love. Or, as differentiated by former Toledo, Ohio native Gloria Steinem in her book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983)
“Pornography is about dominance. Erotica is about mutuality.” – Gloria Steinem
At Another Wine Blog we do not want to hold ourselves above you, pontificating, but seek to share our experiences – to get you so close to the wine and food that you can almost taste it. For me, there is no better way to share our recent trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, than through pictures. Here are a few of our best food and wine pictures from the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference.
To set the stage, we enjoyed some of the best southern food we tasted all weekend at an evening reception for participants at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. For those not acclimated to over 100-degree heat, it was nearly unbearable. But for some of us well-acquainted with the extreme heat and humidity of a late July day in the South, a tour of the house and grounds of historic Monticello was Southern hospitality at its best. Catered by the historic Keswick Hall, named ‘number 1 Top Small Resorts’ in the Mainland USA by Condé Nast Traveler. Executive Chef Dean Maupin and his staff prepared gourmet southern “comfort” food for bloggers gathered to taste local Virginia wines.
After the reception, we wandered into the vegetable gardens. It is said that Jefferson had a “revolutionary” garden. At the time Jefferson lived there, the garden was said to include 330 varieties of eighty-nine species of vegetables and herbs, 170 varieties of the finest fruit varieties known at the time.
We do not know if the comfort food we were eating came from the garden, but it was truly delicious. We started under a big covered tent with wine tasting. While Virginia promotes Viognier, we were really impressed with the reds. Even in the shade, the heat was nearly suffocating. So even the reds were chilling in ice.
The top photo is a Pinot Noir from Ankida Ridge Vineyards. Planted in 2008, Ankida (pronounced An KEE’da) Ridge Farm and Vineyard harvested its first crop of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in August 2010. At an elevation of 1800 feet, vines are tightly spaced among rocks on the steep eastern slope of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Just 48 cases of Chardonnay and 92 cases of Pinot Noir were bottled. Pairings suggested include Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab with the Chardonnay and spiced pork, poultry of lamb with the Pinot Noir.
I love tomatoes, and it’s rare we can get anything in Texas as good as those from the island of Santorini or Joe’s mother’s garden in Toledo, Ohio. But the fresh heirloom cherry tomatoes with basil chiffonade and 50-year balsamic vinaigrette from Keswick Hall, pictured above, came a pretty close second.
Watch the slide show, below for close-ups of these and other reception dishes, as well as a couple of pictures from dinner at the Charlottesville Omni Hotel dinner with winemakers on our final evening at the conference.