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A Side of Emotion

One of the things I love about Krug is that, in addition to being one of the very best Champagne houses, its people always bring a little something extra to the table – something to mull over as you sip their bubbly.  What will they do next?


At a tasting in New York a couple of weeks ago, they were reinforcing the intriguing links that Champagnes and other wines have with spices.  Krug commissioned Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boite in New York to create two special spice blends, one to match the 2003 vintage they were introducing and one to match the evergreen Grande Cuvée.  Before we sat down to taste with Olivier Krug and cellar master Eric Leber, we could at our leisure watch a film about Sercarz and sniff his creations as we sipped.


Without being too soft and fuzzy about it, I think many of the more-successful winemakers and chefs are thinking and creating these days beyond what is on the plate and in the glass.  Simply put, they want to add something from their backgrounds or from related disciplines, and they want the consumer to enjoy these connections as well.


Slow food encourages us to relax and to open up. Farm to table reminds us of nearness and locality.  Authenticity – often a poorly-thought-through concept – attempts to connect the wines we drink to their histories and heritages.  Comfort foods are not just simple fare but connections to our childhood experiences.  We buy wines from wineries we have visited not just because they taste good, but because we have a connection, a loyalty to the source.  A chef who comes from the kitchen to explain a dish further exalts his creation.


Director Ian Morden of New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay winery got me thinking about the word “provenance” beyond its catchphrase usage – how should a winery and its wine relate to its surroundings?  And what, if anything, should that do to the wine and our perception of it?  Chef Bryan Sikora of La Fia in Wilmington, Delaware, is a trained artist and likes to sketch out his creations as they come to mind, making the creative connections between sight and taste.


“I think that exploring the emotional attachment of food to a place and time is the most under-rated sensation when food is being prepared,” says Swiss-born Chef Fed, who owns Sex on the Table, a New York City combination cooking school, events producer and social club.


I’m also reminded of a conversation I had a few years ago with Georg Riedel about the ability of the right stemware to bring out the optimum characteristics of any particular wine.  Georg told the story of an older Austrian winemaking acquaintance who cried when he tried his own wine in a newly configured regional glass.  “I have always dreamed that this is the way my wine would taste,” he said.       


Emotionally and creatively, each day is Valentine’s Day, even in the hospitality trade.

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