Adding Flavor

In our small wine shop in eastern North Carolina, I write shelftalkers for our displayed wines.  Many times I try to give a few taste and aroma descriptors along with at least one food pairing.  It is a great exercise for me as it forces me to describe wines in writing so that I don’t forget them.  It also allows customers to browse in our shop without having to ask questions if they don’t feel like it.

Today, during lunch service, a couple was strolling through our wine room, and they asked Frances could they speak with the wine buyer. 

Frances retrieved me from the kitchen where I was extremely busy inhaling french fries, and I made my way into the office to answer some questions about wine–my most favorite job in the world.

The couple was looking at the shelftalker describing the Domaine Seguinot-Bordet Chablis 2009, and I had written the following:

“An expression of Chardonnay that can only be described as pure, Chablis is one of my most favorite growing regions.  Tart green apple, oyster shells and minerality that doesn’t stop, this wine is perfect with Chicken Scallopine or a fresh Arugula Salad with Lemon Viniagrette.”

The couple had read the shelftalker, and they wanted to ask me a question about the flavors I had described.

The man looked at the bottle, and then he looked at me.  He asked, “Do they add green apples and oyster shells to the wine to make it taste that way?”

My most favorite explanation of wine was allowed to be expressed this afternoon as I excitedly responded with the following:

“Grapes are the only fruit in the world with the magical ability to taste and smell like other things once they are made into wine.”

“If you make wine from peaches, it smells like peaches; if you make wine from pineapple, it smells like pineapple; but grapes, vinifera grapes, that is (think Merlot, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay….), are the only fruit in the world to have the incredible ability to smell like dark plums, green apple, lime zest, smoke, buttered toast, the list goes on and on and on and on.”

In case anyone reading has ever wondered that question, and I hope you have so you’ll continue to read, grapes are magical.  They are crazy magical, and wine produced from grapes take on nuances and flavors you couldn’t imagine in a million years they would be able to have.

The next time you taste a wine, think about all of the many flavors you sniff out in the glass and eventually taste.  It’s pretty amazing grapes have that type of complexity, that type of ability, that type of magic. 

It is yet another reason to drink the juice, to get a little magic in your veins. 

Cheers to the magic of the vino!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Frances Liverman

    I am always amazed at what you know about wine. I have learned so
    much just by listening to you with our customers. Thanks for all you have taught me. Sorry I am a slow learner !!

  • lauren greaney

    Hi Inez I am not someone who “knows” wine but I love Reisling, so thank for your previous entries . I wanted to tell you my 9/11/2001 story about why I have thought about you since 9/11 of this year, the 10th anniv. We live about 9 miles from the capital in Wash, DC , my husband works there and my son was in school in DC and my 2 younger children were in school in Maryland, I was at work as a nurse. My oldest son and wife lived in Manhattan. And I thank God we had no personal losses. So why am I on your blog?
    I am a great cook and have always enjoyed stretching my abilities so I have been a subscriber to Bon Appetit off and on for years. 2 weeks ago on sept 10th I pulled out of a stack of very old Bon Appetits just to browse- and was intrigued by the recipe for red onion meatloaf and it was yours. I read the intro and read that Inez Holderness worked at Windows on the World, March 2001.
    It took me 2 weeks to get the nerve to find out if you were still with
    us after 9/11. I am grateful that you are with your family today. I am so sorry for all the loss you experienced. I have added your wine blog to my favorites and I will not bother you but have decided that I will check in to the blog now and then and try your suggestions. All the best to you, take care and good luck down in No Carolina.

  • Dear Lauren,
    Thank you for sharing this story with me.
    Please come to eat at On the Square if you ever venture to Tarboro….we have lots and lots of Riesling.