Alsace and Indian
The Stupids thought it was about time to push ourselves just that extra millimeter toward hepatic failure. This time, the instruments of our destruction would be crafted by canny Alsace vignerons. As we start pulling corks at our local Masaladosaria, we marvel yet again about that marvelous irony of cuisine, that unlikely exception to the “local wine, local food” rule that seems to work so well, that spectacular matter-antimatter reaction of those wines with Indian cuisine. This set of shared reflections causes our wives to look even more bored than usual. Only the appetizers arriving stops their eyes from rolling.
We’ve got ourselves a couple of 1995 Sonnenglanz Grands Crus. To be specific, Bott-Geyl’s Gewurz VV and Tokay-Pinot Gris. Just to be annoyingly complete, the gewurz is greyish-to-black-market, French tax stamp and no National Self-Righteous Guardian of Pregnant Ladies sticker evident; the pinot gris was a North Berkeley import, all the Rules followed. The latter first graces our glasses, with a medium-yellow splash. The first impression is pears poached in a lightly nutmeg-and-allspice-infused bath, with a hint or two of well-used sweatsox. Not a bad thing, really, but for some reason, the ever-patient wives groan at the last part of the descriptor. “Well, I liked it before you said that!” OK, we’ll drink yours. “No way!” The bit of residual sugar bounces joyfully against the subtle heat of green chile pakora. We note that the texture is fat and oily, the acidity lowish. That slight spare tire is a virtue with the earthy, exotic coconut-ground dal chutney slathered all over our appetizers. We notice that the wine is getting a little more smokey and exotic with time. We analyze the flavor of the chutney, trying to decide how it’s made, marvel again at how well the pairing works. The wives are making loud snoring noises.
The main courses arrive; we move on to the Gewurz VV. Smells like gewurz (that aroma is so distinctive, it ought to be its own descriptor). It’s on the creamy side of gewurz, again with the slightest hint of smoke and earth. There’s probably just as much residual sugar as in the tokay, but the gewurz’s greater acidity makes it drink dryer. And we need that with our sambars, dosas, and chicken. With these heavier dishes, it insinuates itself into every receptor not already attacked by the Madras spices, and hangs on for dear life. Another great pairing.
Tasting back and forth, we try to decide what elements might be informed by the vineyard, fueled by our memories of other Bott-Geyl wines. Perhaps the creamy, smoky aspect? Our wives are now threatening to get up and leave RIGHT NOW if you two don’t stop talking like a couple of boring dweebs.
There’s only one way to calm down these women when they’re THIS annoyed: be sweeter, and the best way to do that is to pop a ’94 Zind-Humbrecht Tokay Pinot Gris Clos St-Urbain Rangen. Our better halves allow as how they might like to try some of that. Golden-hued, a glass of 10W-40 in texture, the pears in this one are poached in nutmeg and honey with a tough of vanilla bean. Though it’s probably the best of Z-H’s pinots grises, it’s SO big and SO intense that it overwhelms the remaining food. Nothing to do, then, but pack doggy bags (except for Piggy Stuart) while we enjoy the wine’s roar. The wives finally make happy noises. Nice way to end an evening.