Jun 15 2009
Well, well, look what the cat dragged in? I’m at Whole Foods in Venice, CA. Only in Los Angeles will you find a twist top , Gruner Veltliner, from Austria in a recyclable plastic bottle in the Organic Wine Selection Section. I know little about the region (where the wine comes from) or the varietal (type of grape to make the wine) but, if you know anything about me by now, you know I can’t help myself. I love odd varietals – I’m by no means an expert on anything wine. Just a subversive at heart, who, looks long and hard at ignored grapes.
I’m also one of those armchair environmentalist, who’s recently returned from the Deutschland. So, I find it exciting to see the two display cases of Austrian and German Wine at Whole Foods, both, categorized as “Green” wines. Wines from these regions are a new fascination to me.
Last year, a great friend of mine ( a certain French friend) had just moved to Berlin and sent me a Facebook saying “Come to Berlin, it’s AWESOME”. A few late night messages ensue. Berlin? I’ve never been to Eastern Europe. Eagerly, I click around my favorite travel site (http://www.kayak.com/) and come up with a round trip fare for $465. Not bad for Europe. No surprise really, Berlin in December is not a hot tourist destination. At the time most of Los Angeles was ablaze with smoke and ash so, some cold dark weather sounded absolutely refreshing. From New York, Berlin was a quick six hours. . .
I arrive at Tegal three days later, somewhat un-prepared as this was a spur of the moment trip. Berlin was on my list but, not in the top ten. Not known for its gastronomy or stellar wine, I wasn’t all that excited. To be honest, as I waited through the customs lines, I worried about drowning in a German beer garden, after over-dosing on Polish Sausages, while, a group of leather clad, pierced punk-rockers, spewed beer on my pearl stud earrings. What was I doing here?? Would I be forced to drink beer all day long? Eat schnitzel for all three meals? I wasn’t sure I was cut for the Kruit’s ways?
The Frenchman retrieves me from the airport. He worked for Alan Ducaase in Paris, he assures me that I will not be for want of food or drink while in the Deutschland. His top lip curls as he shakes his head at my worrisome question about the gastronomy of this region. I guess trust him, he is French after all.
Beer is the drink of choice in Germany. It’s consumption rate is one the highest in the world, with over 6,000 (recorded) produced Beer’s, each year. My beer days were long gone. But, not to fret. I discovered an amazing array new wines to try. The region in general is known for elegant whites. Like the Uber sexy, Bio Kult, Gruner Veltner (http://www.biokultwein.at/e_keller.htm). Dry and light, mineral with grapefruit-ish fruit under tones. A great thirst quencher in hot weather! Despite the fact that it is cold and dark in Berlin, I can’t seem to get enough Gruner while Im there. The Frenchman is bored to tears with this new obsession.
While, yes the magical Gruner seems to pair well with famous schnitzel here, I do manage to try other varietals. In fact, I learned that the Germans’ are enjoying some success with new red varieties. Due to the fact that I was robbed by a gang of gypsy’s in Prague, after a creepy train ride with Eli Roth (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0450278/)and evening of absinth – my trusty camera and moleskin notebook are noticeable absent for the later part of the trip. Everything I eat and drink goes un-documented. Suffice to say, I am pleasantly pleased with both the wine and food offerings in Berlin. Frenchy was right.
And as I stand in the Whole Foods isle, I realize that my Gruner discovery was very insightful. If Whole Foods is boasting that this grape as a top ten seller (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/wine/index.php), I know that I am a really goode candidate for Murphy-Goode because my naïve little palate seems to have a good eye!
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