The Sign of a Great Wine
Sometime ago I remember reading about a person who was learning to do an activity and the teacher was emphasizing that to really arrive at mastery one had to stop trying, thinking and hoping and then when all that happened the person and the activity would fuse seamlessly. Maybe it was a Castaneda book or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Or some other book. It doesn’t matter. But last night after a long day of scrubbing windows and cleaning up a place to ready it to sell, we gathered around the grape-picking table with some Texas BBQ and all the accoutrements of a meal in that genre - potato salad, coleslaw, some fries, pickles and hot peppers - and we went after it. Tagged the two meat, two potato platter. And along with that the wine.
I don't know what I was thinking; I had some Nebbiolo open, chilled. It was 100+°F. For some reason the new Sicilian rosé called. From Regaleali, Nero d’Avola, a 2011, it seemed to be a nice wine to enjoy with the smoky ribs and brisket. It was.
People think great BBQ in Texas can only come from near Austin. Like the only music worth listening to also comes from Austin. Bunch of hooey from the Weedville PAC. In essence, most of the meat used for Texas BBQ comes from the same purveyor in Iowa. So what one smoker does in Elgin or Belton or Dallas makes the meat what it is. It ain’t the wand, it’s the magician. In my town we’ve been frequenting the same place for many years. Good magic. They never disappoint. And consistently their track record is high in my playbook. Very lucky to not have to drive hundreds of miles to get my BBQ on. Not that there aren’t places in Central Texas that I am not crazy about. I just don’t happen to live there.
While I’m on it, Austin’s radio stations are weak. Oh yes, it’s the self-proclaimed live music capital of Texas. Good for them. But you can’t get your music on so well listening to Austin radio. In Dallas there is a full-time Classical station, a full-time Jazz station, an alternative station which plays loads of Blues and Texas Swing and Country music (not the top 40 junk from Nashville either) and a good NPR station when you want to hear some “leftie” politics. Dallas has every town in Texas beat in the radio dept.
But I was talking rosé and BBQ, wasn’t I? And fusing into an activity seamlessly. Or perhaps without thought or self-awareness? And that is exactly what happened. The food and the wine and the family table and the energy around it was such that we were all one with the meal, including the wine. No heraldic moment, just a moment in time when wine wasn’t the most important thing in our life. In fact it was so seamlessly fused it wasn’t until after we finished the bottle that I realized we had even had a bottle of wine. For me that is the sign of a great wine.
Have you ever had one of those experiences when you were dining out and the service was so fantastic but you never were even aware of it? That was what the wine did. The supporting cast, the two meat, two potato platter, provided the perfect pattern.
P.S. we had the Nebbiolo in place of dessert.
written and photographed (on the grape-picking table) by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy