Monday, August 30, 2010

Great Burgundies, cause celebre, and their service

The first duty of wine is to be red. The second is to be a Burgundy.
- Harry Waugh

Don't reach for the champagne.

Just this once when you have something to celebrate promise me you will celebrate with a great Burgandy instead.

Of all the bottles one should experience in laying claim to being a person who likes wine, both the reds and whites of this tiny wine region of France are critical to an understanding of the true potential of beautiful wines and great celebrations. These wines are full of never-ending complexities and intrigue. Polished, sexy, solicitous, and unpredictable to the bottom of every glass and bottle.

Now, if you are going to do this, get a really fine bottle. And brace yourself, in recent years the Burgundy market has become heady. At least your first few times, do not bother with the lesser Burgundies, even if you are tempted to walk away with a $20 bottle, you are only cheating your own bucket list. But that's your business in the end. Moving on.

"Above all, the great white Burgundies are stunningly complex. Drinking them can be an exercise in delicious patience as layer of flavor after layer of flavor reveals itself. The great red Burgundies are indisputably sensual. For centuries they have been described in the most erotic of ways, and sipping them, has been compared to, among other things, falling in love. This sensuality extends beyond the wines provocatively earthy aromas and flavors. The top Burgundies, red and white, have beguiling textures that melt or dance upon or explode against the palate in unforgettable ways. Great ones can send shivers up your spine."

- Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible

When a great Burgundy makes its way into your orbit, do the wine well and be certain you have the right glass: a broad bowl which tapers towards the top. Never hold the bowl of any wine glass cradled in your palm; it will heat the wine.

Red Burgundies are all Pinot Noir; the most finicky creature on the vine yields spectacular wines in this region. Unlike other red wines you have come to know, do not allow these wines to sit about in the air, put your nose in the glass immediately and then drink thoughtfully. No fooling around; you have no time to waste. Burgundies will immediately reveal their character and continue unravel a wild world of flavors as the wine lowers in the glass.

Because these wines are likely to blossom, thrill, and change until the glass is emptied, it is standard practice never to top off Burgundies. It would be something of a gluttonous and unfortunate tragedy. Indeed, the sommelier is not slacking in this case when the wine is allowed to reach the bottom of the glass. Finish your glass, taking your time, have another if you are lucky to have enough on hand.

And when you do, remember who sent you. Cheers.

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