Weeknight Cooking

The 3 Bottles of Wine You'll Want to Talk About

April 30, 2015

We may have food down cold, but wine? This is where we'll conquer it. Join us; we don't want to drink alone. 

Today it's all about the stories. Cathy Huyghe shares her list of the most conversational wines that will get a buzz going at any dinner party. 

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Writing about wine for Food52’s community of home cooks is a little intimidating. Home cooks come here for the cooking. And the recipes. And the ingredients. And the advice that will nourish your creativity in the kitchen just as much as the cooking itself will nourish you and your family at the table. I get it: Those are the reasons why I’m part of this community, too. Yet here I am, writing not about food but about wine

Here’s why: I love wine for the same reason that I suspect you love food: It brings people together. At the end of the day, we all want to find common ground between ourselves and other people, and food—and wine—are like roadmaps to get us there. Today’s post is dedicated to wines that are guaranteed to start a conversation: one white, one red, and one sparkling. Open them up and pour some in your glass and into the glass of another person or two at your table. Tell them the story of the wine. Then sit, eat, drink, and listen to the responses.

2011 Sohm & Kracher Grüner Veltliner
This wine is partly a salute to Aldo Sohm, a world-renowned sommelier, but it also recognizes the splash of a new wine bar by a celebrity chef/sommelier in New York City. Mostly, though, this wine is about a lesser-known, underdog grape. And because it’s made by someone who’s spent an entire lifetime as a wine person in a food and restaurant environment, it’s about the context of enjoying a wine: who you’re with and what food you’re having alongside it—these impact the taste and experience of a wine as well.

2010 Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard Mourvèdre
When winemaker Hardy Wallace goes home at night to a second floor apartment in a worn-down bungalow in Calistoga, he has to be careful not to fall through any of the weak spots on his porch. When he prints labels for his wines, he or his wife Kate does it while sprawled out on the floor of the living room. And while he was learning the craft of winemaking, he worked two other jobs just to keep the lights on and pay the bills. This particular wine captures that entrepreneurial, hard-working spirit.

NV A. Bergère Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru
The Avenue de Champagne in Épernay, France, is regarded as the priciest real estate in the world, at least when you factor in the millions of bottles—and billions of revenue dollars—held in inventory in the extensive caves underneath this street. More than a dozen of the world’s most recognizable sparkling wine brands have staked out their presence here. Then, a few years ago, along came young upstart Maison A. Bergère to open a storefront. Until that moment, 98% of Bergère’s production was sold at festivals throughout France’s countryside, alongside cheeses and charcuterie. Now they’ve elbowed their way, and their wines, in among the powerhouses along the Avenue de Champagne. 

What are the best stories you’ve ever heard about a bottle of wine? Please tell us in the comments!

Photos by James Ransom

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Cathy Huyghe

Written by: Cathy Huyghe

Best advice I've ever heard regarding wine? "Just drink the stuff."