Anyone who hangs out at my house, or reads this blog, knows that I enjoy cooking. But it occurred to me the other day that I “want to be a good cook” in much the same way that a blogger wants to be a novelist, or that a street ball player wants to play in the NBA. This is to say, I enjoy being in the kitchen with all of the many wonderful smells and superfluous appliances that help to make up the experience, but I prefer it informal, sans recipe, and I don’t want to invest the kind of time that it would take to truly become a chef. For me, it’s about creativity and relaxing. I’d rather jot a thought than hone the turn of a phrase, rather try to toss the ball off of the glass over my opponents head and score on the other side of the rim than focus on my fundamentals, — and I’d rather just chop up whatever vegetables and dead animal sound good, turn up the heat, and season to taste, all while enjoying a glass of wine.
My most recent experience in the kitchen was a great one. They aren’t all; sometimes I throw frozen shrimp in boiling oil, making a mess and burning much of my arm hair off. But this one was great. Asparagus with garlic and lemon with cracked pepper on the grill next to some beautiful sirloins, and chopped red potatoes and onion seasoned with oregano baked in the oven. Sometimes I go over the top with the number of ingredients and flavor combinations, but this time Dave Phinney’s Orin Swift Palermo 2014 inspired me to be a minimalist. The wine is sophisticated, but not overly complex. High alcohol, around 15.5%, fits this Cab into the same category as many others of Dave’s, a bit exaggerated, a force. I met that exaggeration with some of my own, with generous amounts of garlic, lemon, pepper and oregano lending a great deal of flavor to vegetables that I have found otherwise may turn out bland. The immense fruit notes and fine tannins on this very young yet ready-to-drink wine made it a terrific companion while I cooked, requiring little thought, yet with me every step of the way.
In the $40-$50 range, it’s a bit of a splurge, but there’s always Coravin for those of us who like to cook with a nice glass of wine in hand. A very nice wine, I highly recommend it. (sample)